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Everyone has suffered through periods of emotional trauma, whether a loved one has died, or they’ve faced a situation that struck them out of the blue (like a layoff). Although the condition is universal, emotional trauma can hit over longer periods of time and to a deeper degree. That’s when it becomes a problem.

Types of trauma: Acute, Chronic, or Complex

Acute trauma results from a single incident. Maybe you were in a car wreck and someone either died or was seriously injured.
Chronic trauma is caused by repeated and prolonged situations such as domestic violence or abuse.
Complex trauma is caused by exposure to varied and multiple traumatic events.


Emotional trauma can cause anxiety and panic attacks, fear, anger, irritability, shock, disbelief, obsession, and compulsions. It can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. Emotional trauma can occur in this order although a person may go through a stage more than once.

Shock and denial-- disbelief and numbed feelings.
Pain and guilt
Anger and bargaining
The upward turn
Reconstruction and working through
Acceptance and hope.

Ways to Recover

Ways to recover from emotional trauma include:
· Movement and Exercise. As trauma disrupts your body's natural equilibrium, exercise and movement can help repair your nervous system.
· Connect with Others. Try connecting with those who may be going through a similar problem.
· Ask for Support. Don’t hide. Reach out to a group or a counselor who can help you recover.
· Volunteer. Offer yourself to others who are needing help, whether emotional, physical or otherwise. Helping others also helps the helper.

LET IT OUT is a source for those recovering. We offer hope, healing, and connection.


Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
Last updated: November 2021

NCBI: Emotional Trauma

WebMD: Emotional Trauma



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