5 Long-Term Effects of Emotional Trauma

The numbers surrounding trauma, which includes physical and emotional trauma, are extraordinarily high in the United States — more than 223 million people have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. Diving even deeper, 90% of those who struggle with a mental health issue report experiencing trauma.

At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber has extensive experience helping patients navigate the mental and physical aftermath of trauma, including those who suffer from clinical post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

Whether or not you develop PTSD, the fact is that emotional trauma can leave its mark in myriad ways and we explore five of them here.

Defining emotional trauma

Trauma in general is tough to clearly define since everyone processes events differently. What one person may view as traumatic, another may find to be merely a difficult situation. The point is that trauma is unique to the individual and we’re not here here to define what constitutes trauma and what does not.

That said, there are common situations that people find emotionally traumatic, such as:

Whatever creates your emotional trauma, leaving it unresolved can lead to long-term consequences.

The aftermath of trauma

If you’ve been through something traumatic and you’re unable to process it properly, you may find yourself with the following issues:

1. Anxiety

Many of our patients report high levels of anxiety that plague their every waking hour after a traumatic event. While everyone worries from time to time, an anxiety disorder traps you in a flight-or-fight mode that can prevent you from functioning normally.

2. Re-experiencing or flashbacks

Even if your trauma is well in the past, you may experience flashbacks of the event that are triggered by certain reminders. These flashbacks are more than just an unpleasant memory as you re-experience the same emotions you felt at the time quite vividly.  As well, you may find yourself struggling with ongoing nightmares.

3. Behavioral changes

In an attempt to forget the past and to control their emotions, many people turn to substances, such as drugs or alcohol, which can very easily lead to substance use disorders if left unchecked.

By the same token, some people turn to food to cope with unresolved issues, which can lead to weight issues or eating disorders.

As well, some people turn to risky and dangerous behaviors, preferring the thrill of the moment to sitting with their emotions and memories.

4. Health issues

Experiencing high levels of anxiety can cause widespread inflammation in your body, which can lead to a number of serious health issues, such as cardiovascular disease or autoimmune disease.

5. Cognitive function

When your brain is hijacked by emotional trauma, it can lead to cognitive issues, such as problems with memory and focus (concentration). In extreme cases, people are unable to function at school or work because of their inability to focus on the tasks at hand.

As you can see, it is because unresolved emotional trauma can have a widespread impact on your physical, emotional, and mental health that we urge you to seek our help. Through our innovative treatments, including psychotherapy, ketamine infusions, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, we can help you lead a happy, productive life.

To get started, contact our offices in Fort Worth or Granbury, Texas, to set up an appointment.

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