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What is Emotional Trauma? 6 Tips for Understanding.

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

By Dr. Bev

Emotional trauma is everywhere and so many of us are affected by it. When we lose someone we love or a stressful event breaks apart our sense of security, we can begin to view the environment and those around us as dangerous. Even if a certain event doesn’t cause us any physical harm, being in a state of fear can still cause us to become traumatized. And that’s not good for us because stress releases cortisol which can raise havoc in the body.

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

So, let’s look at some important pieces to consider when confronted with emotional trauma of all kinds. First, let’s examine how it is frequently experienced and seen in our lives today. Again, it is everywhere.

1. Common Ways to experience emotional trauma:


Loss of health

Losing a job

Loss of financial stability



Death of a pet

Loss of a cherished dream

A loved one’s serious illness

Loss of a friendship

Loss of safety after a trauma

Selling the family home… and more

2. Characteristics:

Trauma causes a shock to our bodies, our minds, our souls…. There are cognitive, behavioral, physical and psychological reactions to emotional trauma. What it can look like:

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Isolation from friends and loved ones

Anger, irritability, reactiveness

Sense of guilt and shame

View of the world become cynical

Drug and alcohol abuse

Whether or not the trauma caused physical harm, circumstances are accompanied by deep emotional pain which can make you ill. Insomnia, nightmares, chronic fatigue, difficulty concentrating, panic attacks, edginess, agitation, muscle tension and a rapid heartbeat are all physical symptoms of emotional stress.

3. Results of emotional trauma:

Self-destructive behaviors

Uncontrollable reactions

Shame, guilt, hopelessness, despair

Loss of former belief systems

Compulsive behavioral problems

Substance use challenges

Sexual problems

Inability to maintain close relationships

Hostility and argumentativeness


Feelings of being threatened

Finding strength to heal from emotional trauma can be utterly exhausting and debilitating at times – however, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your well-being. The following quote from Matthew illustrates the necessity of digging deep to find the strength to put one foot in front of the other and keep on trying to heal.

Matthew 9:29: “If you have faith and do not doubt… it will be done.”