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Does Emotional Trauma Ever Go Away?
Learning how to recover from emotional trauma is the key to moving on with your life.
No two people are alike, meaning that none of us respond to fear-inducing events in the same way. When we experience or witness a traumatic event, humans will first experience the fight or flight response. This stress response has been hardwired into our genes from the beginning of man. It helps us to make a decision when confronted with a scary event—to run away or to battle it out.
Most people will cycle through a trauma recovery process and be able to move forward after a couple of weeks. Others may still feel its effects months, even years, later. For those who have struggled to overcome trauma, learning how to recover from emotional trauma is key.
What is Trauma?
A trauma is an extremely distressing event that is experienced or witnessed by the person. These are situations that make someone feel overwhelmed, terrified, or out of control. These sometimes life-threatening events can leave a deep scar on the psyche.
Trauma is different from just having experienced an upsetting event. A traumatic event causes a sense of impending danger, that you are not safe.
The emotional distress that results may resolve over a period of time. When it doesn’t resolve within a month, it is then diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.
Examples of traumatic events include:
- Physical assault or abuse.
- Sexual assault or abuse.
- The sudden unexpected death of a close loved one.
- Serious accident or injury.
- Natural disaster.
- Combat-related trauma.
- Serious health condition.
Recovering from emotional trauma can involve counseling, holistic methods, and basic self-care. When these techniques are not effective in trauma relief, a higher level of care is needed.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms
PTSD is an anxiety-related mental health disorder that features a prolonged response to a traumatic event. This is defined as having symptoms that persist for a month or longer.
- Experiencing strong emotions, such as anger, sorrow, despair.
- Anxiety symptoms.
- Mood swings.
- Difficulties at work.
- Hyper-arousal, jumpy.
- Intrusive memories.
- Problems in relationships.
- Flashbacks or nightmares.
- Feelings of guilt or shame.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Isolating behaviors.
- Emotional flatness or detachment.
- Avoidance of anything, place, or person that might trigger thoughts of the event.
- Substance abuse.
Substance Abuse and Trauma
Substance abuse is a common response to the symptoms that happen after a trauma. A piece published in Current Psychiatry Reports shows about half of patients receiving treatment for substance abuse had PTSD.
This can be explained by the use of unhealthy coping techniques accessed after a highly traumatic event. Each person responds to trauma in their own way, using their own coping skills. Some might seek the help of a therapist or use holistic methods to help resolve the effects of the trauma. Others may depend on a substance to numb the symptoms. Sadly, substance abuse can create a co-occurring disorder.
How to Recover from Emotional Trauma?
Therapy is designed to help the person slowly become less sensitive to the traumatic event. There are many types of approaches to helping trauma patients. These include:
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This form of therapy can help the person by shaping the thoughts they attach to the trauma. These are thoughts that lead to negative emotions, and behavior responses like substance abuse. The TFCBT therapist will encourage the person to express their feelings about the event. With this, they can teach the patient how those thoughts have led to emotions like guilt, loneliness, and anxiety. Through this process, the negative thoughts slowly lose their strength.
Exposure Therapy. Exposure therapy is a short-term therapy that helps patients become less sensitive to thoughts about the trauma. By gradually exposing them to the triggers within a safe environment, the impact of the trauma is slowly reduced over time. This can help the patient move past some of the avoidance behaviors they may have adopted.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is an 8-step program that focuses on the past, present, and future in segments. The therapist asks the patient to follow the finger or object back and forth with their eyes while discussing the trauma. This helps reduce the impact of the trauma over the course of the 8 sessions.
Self-Care in Trauma Recovery
To enhance the effects of trauma treatment, there are some very helpful self-care actions that can be taken to aid the process. Consider these:
- Get daily exercise.
- Avoid junk food and sugar.
- Get a massage.
- Practice yoga.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Keep a journal.
- Use guided imagery tracks.
- Join a support group.
Taking care of yourself after a trauma is essential. It shows that you value your health and wellness enough to treat yourself with kindness and daily self-care.
When You Need More Intensive Treatment for Trauma
Sometimes, the above actions do not seem to help you recover from the emotional trauma. When this is the case you should think about a more intensive treatment approach.
There are different treatment settings that can assist you in trauma recovery. For instance:
- Trauma retreats. These are weekend retreats designed to offer many types of activities to help you process your trauma. These retreats provide spa-like amenities and practice holistic care techniques.
- Inpatient mental health treatment. An inpatient mental health setting can be a residence or a hospital. The hospital setting is for more acute trauma cases, where the person is at risk of harming themselves or others. A residential program is a small venue where you receive 24-hour support while working through the trauma with therapists.
Recovering from emotional trauma can take some time. Be kind to yourself, be patient, and in time you will emerge stronger than ever.
Mental Health Hope Can Offer Hope and Guidance After Trauma
Mental Health Hope is an online free resource that offers guidance for mental health concerns. The expert team of mental health specialists can provide information about trauma and suggest treatment venues and treatment options. Call today at (877) 967-9274.