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How Unhealed Trauma Can Affect You

Written By: Zeina Islam

People often perceive trauma as a major event, however, trauma more often than not goes unnoticed.. So let’s debunk it. Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event that is usually life altering, even if just mentally or emotionally.

Trauma can be

  • acute - resulting from a single incident

  • chronic - repeated or prolonged events

  • complex - exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events

What is unhealed trauma?

Trauma is usually not acknowledged when it’s happening in real time due to shock and denial, so very often your trauma ends up staying unresolved and pushed into the back of your mind. This defense mechanism can help you to stop thinking about the traumatic event but it could still influence your daily life. So, how can you identify your unhealed trauma and become the best version of yourself?

Signs of unhealed trauma

  • Anxiety or panic attacks: a little anxiety is normal for everyone, but if you find yourself having recurring episodes or an increased frequency of anxiety or panic attacks in situations that do not normally induce anxiety, then it could be a sign of unresolved trauma.

  • Over-planning everything: People who have unhealed trauma often like planning everything ahead and go into heavy detail with the planning as a way of compensating the control they lost when their traumatic event occurred.

  • Trouble asking for help: Childhood neglect, or incidents causing a child to be scared of communicating with their parents could lead to trouble asking for help as an adult. This is partly due to the feelings of anxiety coming back from that early time in their life.

  • Avoidance: avoidance of certain people or places or things that may be related to the traumatic event; this also can include an avoidance of unpleasant emotions.

  • Dissociation: Much like avoidance, dissociation and imagining a fake reality can be an attempt of escaping reality and avoiding the unpleasant emotions.

  • Always being on guard: Traumatic events more often than not leave you with major trust issues. As a way to avoid getting hurt again, you will find yourself overthinking everything and living by “ better be safe than sorry”.

  • Feeling emotions very intensely: Unprovoked anger is also a major sign of unhealed trauma. You may have feelings of frustration and rage without knowing where it is coming from and may even act on it at times; unresolved trauma could be a possible reason for this. It is fueled by built up anger towards the traumatic event or person that shifted your life.

Can trauma still affect you years later?

The short answer is ‘of course’. Trauma mostly affects people years later because they are unaware or too involved in the situation while they are actually experiencing the traumatic event. Unresolved trauma can lead to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which can majorly affect your mental health and well-being. This is why it is crucial for you to acknowledge your trauma and seek out help to heal while prioritizing your mental health.

Ways to heal your unresolved trauma

Shadow work is key! The best way to figure out what is going on with you, is to do the internal work. Shadow work can be emotionally exhausting because your mind does not recognize time when reliving past traumas. You may need to consult a health care professional to help with grounding and coping techniques.

  • Read: self-help books that help you understand your trauma

  • Therapy: talking to a professional could help you acknowledge exactly what is wrong as well as equip you with tools to get through it

  • Journaling: writing your feelings down can help you keep track of your mental progress and also get your feelings out in a healthy way

  • Exercise: moving your body has been proven to help us cope with emotions better and feel better about ourselves overall

  • Meditation & Yoga: Being able to quiet your mind and just focus on your body in the present moment can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and train yourself to stop reliving the past

Unresolved trauma is seen in our everyday lives, makes our quality of life so much worse, and creates negativity and unneeded cloudy emotions. Prioritize your healing journey and you will see firsthand how much of a difference it creates in you. Let’s become the best versions of ourselves together!


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