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What are the Different Types of Emotional Trauma?

By Tabatha Manuel
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Many people experience emotional trauma after certain events in their lives. Emotional events such as a breakup from a significant other or the loss of something important can cause someone to experience mental trauma. Trauma to the emotions is stress that affects the nervous system and prohibits a person from coping with a situation. Common types and causes of emotional trauma are grief, separation, severe humiliation, physical abuse, emotional abuse and a life-threatening accident.

Grief or separation can occur when someone is separated from a loved one unexpectedly. The separation can be the result of death, a breakup or some other type of separation. Individuals who experience these types of events might feel a sense of loss, depression and sadness.

Severe humiliation can leave a person feeling disappointed and therefore cause emotional stress and worry. Depending on the severity of the situation, individuals who have suffered severe humiliation might have a loss of self-esteem. This can detrimentally affect them in their lives and leave them in a state of isolation.

Abuse can take many forms, including physical and emotional. Physical abuse can occur either sexually or with bodily harm such has hitting and kicking. Emotional abuse includes verbal insults, name-calling and foul language. When a person is subject to physical and/or emotional abuse, he or she can incur psychological effects that can negatively affect his or her mood and cognitive functions.

A life-threatening accident can make a person experience flashbacks and nightmares. People who have been victims of a major catastrophe, such as a serious car accident, might suffer emotional trauma long after the incident occurred. Some victims relive the event repeatedly in their minds, which can cause even more psychological pain and grief.

The brain goes through many changes when someone experiences emotional trauma. Functions in the brain are impaired, and the formation alters. The frontal cortex, the logical part of the brain; the limbic system, the emotional part of brain; and the brain stem, part of the brain with survival instincts; merge together, causing significant cognitive impairment.

Symptoms of emotional trauma include a lack of energy, poor eating habits or lack of appetite, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, an inability to concentrate, memory loss and irritability. Trauma that is untreated can cause a person’s life to spiral out of control, and some people resort to substance abuse, violence or suicide.

Emotional trauma generally is treated with behavioral and talk therapy sessions with a qualified doctor. Depending on the severity of the trauma, symptoms can resurface even after treatment. In such cases, further treatment might be needed.

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Discussion Comments
By anon947019 — On Apr 23, 2014

At last, something tangible to hang my cap on. Severe humiliation, as in my case after years of violent physical child abuse, led me to seek further, and even greater shame on myself, apparently because I can experience 'higher pain levels'.

Unfortunately, it came with collateral damage to those who were close to me; family, friends. According to the 'significant cognitive impairment' it was always going to happen. My real life has an abundance of regrets, guilt, greater worthlessness, greater survival cunning, greater fear for my well being.

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