What is Emotional Trauma?

What is Emotional Trauma?

Emotional or psychological trauma occurs when a person experiences an extremely upsetting or disturbing event or events in their life. Whether it is one big even or a series of smaller events, the resulting trauma can be crippling. The fact is that emotional trauma can be just as damaging as physical trauma, even though it is not visible in the same way.

Traumatic Events

Many different events can trigger emotional trauma in a person. Some people are more vulnerable to this type of trauma than others, depending on their personality and past experiences. A lot of the emotionally traumatic events in people’s lives occur in early childhood. Some people repress the memories of these events, but they eventually manifest later on in adolescence or adulthood.

Child abuse is one example of an early emotionally traumatic event that can negatively impact a person for their entire life. A disturbing event is much more likely to result in this type of trauma if it occurs very suddenly, such as with the death of a loved one. People often feel powerless in these situations, which compounds the emotional trauma significantly.

Some of the more common events that trigger emotional trauma in adulthood include:


It isn’t uncommon for those who get broken up with by someone they are in a long-term relationship with to experience emotional trauma. Many divorces result in emotional trauma, especially when there are children involved. This is often when people are at their worst, which can inflict a lot of psychological damage to both parties.

Humiliating Experiences

A particularly humiliating experience can also cause lasting emotional trauma. People often fear that something humiliating will happen to them, and when it does they become scarred psychologically.

Physical Accidents or Injuries

Physical trauma can easily lead to emotional trauma. Some people who get into very bad car accidents and sustain serious injuries become traumatized, making it difficult to even get back in a car again. There are many types of accidents that can cause emotional trauma, and they are almost always associated with physical trauma.

Diagnosis of Serious Illness

When someone is diagnosed with a serious or terminal illness by a doctor without warning, the news they receive can cause emotional trauma.

Spousal Abuse

A lot of people who suffer abuse at the hands of their spouse become emotionally traumatized. Even verbal abuse can be very psychologically damaging to the person who it is being inflicted on, especially when it occurs on a regular basis.

Ongoing Stress

Those who experience a high level of mental/emotional stress on a regular basis for long periods of time can easily become traumatized. Once a person becomes so accustomed to experiencing stress all the time, it can be difficult for them to recover.

Military Service

Those who serve in the military often come out with emotional trauma to one degree or another, especially those who have been in combat situations. The things that soldiers see in combat can have a significant and lasting impact on their psyche.

Signs of Emotional Trauma

There are many common signs of emotional trauma that you should know about so you can recognize them in yourself and others. Some people don’t even realize they are emotionally traumatized, or they don’t know the full extent of it.

One of the more common signs of emotional trauma is intrusive thoughts. A lot of people who are traumatized in this way find themselves thinking about the original event(s) out of nowhere and on a regular basis. These thoughts often seem impossible to get out of one’s head, and they can cause a person to become distracted at work and in other aspects of their life.

People who are carrying around emotional trauma also sometimes have mood swings. They go from being completely happy and acting normal to flying into a rage or becoming severely depressed in a very short period of time. These mood swings can be very mentally and physically exhausting for those who experience them, and they often drive others away.

Changes in eating and sleeping habits are also common with emotional trauma. Some people tend to eat or sleep more than usual, while others do them less.

It isn’t uncommon for people with these issues to have trouble focusing in school or at work as well. This is because they find themselves constantly thinking about the traumatic events over and over.

Recovering from Emotional Trauma

While it is true that recovering from emotional trauma can be very difficult and take a long time, it is very possible with most people. The time it takes for a person to recover depends on the kind of trauma they have suffered and how hard they work at getting their life back on track.

It is important that those who have emotional trauma see a therapist, specifically one with a relevant specialty. There are some therapists who specialize in treating emotional trauma, so if you know you’ve experienced a traumatic event, it’s best to look for a therapist who is specifically trained to treat in this area.

There are other things that people with emotional trauma can do to begin the recovery process on a daily basis, such as exercising and meditating. It’s also important to talk to people close to you when you feel the need, as keeping your feelings bottled up is not a good idea.

Getting Help

There is no question that emotional trauma can be extremely destructive in a number of ways, and there are many different ways to become traumatized. The pain that people with this type of trauma endure can last for many years if its left untreated.

If you are struggling to deal with an emotional trauma, contact us for a free phone consultation. The sooner you start getting help, the sooner you will be able to get on the road to recovery.

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