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Sometimes life hurts. Unlike a broken bone or a bruise which heals after time, these painful emotional moments can sometimes linger and hinder our ability to cope with the normal ups and downs of being human. This is known as, emotional trauma.
Emotional trauma can be extremely damaging to the psyche. This type of trauma, psychological, is most often the result of living through a frightening or distressing event. However, how these events are defined depends on the individual, the age at which the event happened, and other varying factors. Whatever the cause, emotional trauma often results in challenges functioning or coping normally. Many people who experience a traumatic event will recover well with the proper support system and will not experience long-term problems. Some people after experiencing a traumatic event, however, will go on to develop other issues directly following the event or within a few months of the event.
While traumatic experiences frequently involve life-threatening events, any situation that leaves one feeling alone and completely overwhelmed can be traumatic--even without physical harm. The same is true if small traumas are experienced over and over again. There is nothing that defines how traumatic an event is. The only defining factor is the person who went through it and their emotional experience of it. The more terror and helplessness a person feels, the more likely it is that the individual will be traumatized.
Potentially traumatic events can be caused by a single life-threatening situation or from ongoing stresses. An emotionally traumatic event is more likely to leave lasting emotional and psychological damage if:
Potentially traumatic events are both powerful and upsetting enough to intrude into the day to day to life of a person. The impact of a potentially traumatic event may be related to the mental and physical health of the person, past traumatic experiences, presence of coping skills, and level of social and emotional support at the time of the potentially traumatic event. Examples of events and situations that can lead to the development of psychological trauma may be:
Commonly overlooked causes of potential emotional and psychological trauma can also include:
It’s important to note that other, less severe but ultimately stress-inducing situations can also trigger traumatic reactions in some men and women.
The Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Trauma
Most people who experience a traumatic event will see their feelings disappear over the course of a few days or weeks. However, for some individuals, the symptoms of psychological trauma may be increasingly severe and last longer. Some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma are:
Many people with the emotional trauma that causes long-lasting effects---end up living most of their lives never really recognizing the impact it has on them or they do their best to try and ignore it. As their quality of life diminishes in the face of the event, the impact it has on their life takes a turn for the worse. The effects of emotional trauma can be especially devastating and it will take an acknowledgment of where these effects are coming from and what's causing them (the traumatic event). Some of the most common effects of untreated trauma include:
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