NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Untreated Emotional Trauma is a Serious Issue With Negative Consequences - Part 1

Untreated emotional trauma is a serious issue with negative consequences.  But many people try to minimize the effect of their trauma by trying to "forget it" or "ignore it."  They're often in denial about how their untreated trauma is affecting them now because they don't understand it and they don't recognize the consequences.

Often, their attitude is, "It happened a long time ago, so why should I be concerned about it now?"  In this article, I'll define emotional trauma and some of its symptoms.  In future articles, I'll address why it's important to get help for emotional trauma in psychotherapy with a licensed mental health professional.

Many People Who Were Traumatized Are in Denial About the Impact of the Trauma on Their Lives

What is Emotional Trauma?
There are many experiences that can lead to emotional trauma, including:

  • physical abuse, emotional or sexual abuse
  • witnessing domestic violence as a child
  • living in a family where one or both parents have an alcohol or substance abuse problem or other compulsive or addictive problem, including gambling
  • being removed from a childhood home
  • having a parent or close relative who is incarcerated
  • living in a family with serious financial problems
  • loss of close family members or friends, especially at an early age in childhood
  • medical problems
  • disabilities
  • being bullied
  • experiencing a natural disaster
  • living through a war

Even when many years have passed since the original trauma, untreated trauma can result in people developing the following symptoms:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fear and a sense of foreboding
  • alcohol or drug problems
  • sexual addiction
  • workaholism
  • eating disorders
  • problems with anger management
  • irritability
  • impatience
  • avoiding other people/social isolation
  • feeling unlovable
  • a sense of hopelessness 
  • a sense of helplessness
  • low self esteem
  • being emotionally numb or "shutdown"
  • problems with dissociation or feeling disconnected from other people and the environment
  • medical problems, including autoimmune disorders
  • problems trusting others
  • fear of getting involved in relationships and friendships
  • getting involved in emotionally or physically abuse relationships
  • being too passive
  • being too rigid
  • problems concentrating
  • problems in school
  • problems holding onto a job
  • problems with authority figures
  • legal problems
  • engaging in risky behavior
  • phobias
  • obsessive behavior
  • being overly protective with their children
  • having emotional blind spots for abuse or other problems that might be occurring to their children

The list above is just some of the many problems that can result from untreated emotional trauma.

Untreated Trauma Can Result in Alcoholism or Drug Abuse

Untreated Trauma Can Result in Insomnia

Untreated Trauma Can Result in Workaholism

Very often, the people who experienced trauma at a young age don't make the connection between the early trauma and the problems they're having now.

They don't understand that there's a connection between their current problems and their early trauma.

Many people who have been traumatized just feel resigned to their history, and their attitude is, "That's just the way it was."

Untreated Trauma Often Result in Choosing an Abusive Spouse

Dissociation: Compartmentalization of the Traumatic Experience
Often, when they were growing up, there was no one available to let them know that what they were going through was traumatic.  There was no one to help them, so they did the best they could as children under the circumstances.

Coping with their trauma as children often meant compartmentalizing or dissociating their traumatic experiences.  Their dissociation probably helped them to cope with what was going on at the time because it numbed their emotional pain.  But, even though dissociation might have helped them, to a certain extent, from feeling the full impact of the emotional pain, inevitably, it has consequences for them as adults.

In future articles, I'll continue discussing why it's so important to work through emotional trauma in therapy.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you experienced emotional trauma, you could benefit from getting help from a licensed mental health professional who has expertise in helping therapy clients to overcome trauma.  Working through trauma in psychotherapy can help you to free yourself from your traumatic history.

About Me:
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

One of my specialties in my psychotherapy private practice is helping clients to overcome trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.