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15 Common Signs of Unresolved Trauma

June 10, 2016 Jami DeLoe

Recognizing the signs of unresolved trauma is difficult due to dissociation and blocking out of emotions. These are the most common signs of unresolved trauma.

Recognizing the signs of unresolved trauma can be tricky. Sometimes people who are having difficulties enter therapy without even knowing that they have suffered the trauma that is causing disruptions in their daily lives. The very nature of trauma lends itself to that. Often, when a person goes through a traumatic event, there is some degree of dissociation that happens and the person essentially "blocks out" all, or part, of the event, so his or her awareness of the trauma isn't accurate, making diagnosis difficult. However, there are some common signs of unresolved trauma that you can look for.

The Effects of Unresolved Trauma

Just because someone who suffered trauma blocks out (consciously or unconsciously) what has happened, it doesn't mean that he or she won't feel the effects from it.

Peter A. Levine, Ph.D., who has treated and researched trauma for over 45 years, says,

The effects of unresolved trauma can be devastating. It can affect our habits and outlook on life, leading to addictions and poor decision-making. It can take a toll on our family life and interpersonal relationships. It can trigger real physical pain, symptoms, and disease. And it can lead to a range of self destructive behaviors.

Signs and Symptoms of Unresolved Trauma

Recognizing the signs of unresolved trauma is difficult due to dissociation and blocking out of emotions. These are the most common signs of unresolved trauma.

Even when memories of the trauma are hidden from a person's awareness, there are signs that will become noticeable in his or her daily life. Below are some of the most common signs that someone is suffering from unresolved trauma:

  1. Anxiety or panic attacks that occur in what would be considered normal situations
  2. A feeling of shame; an innate feeling that they are bad, worthless, or without importance
  3. Suffering from chronic or ongoing depression
  4. Practicing avoidance of people, places, or things that may be related to the traumatic event; this also can include an avoidance of unpleasant emotions
  5. Flashbacks, nightmares, and body memories regarding the traumatic event
  6. Addiction and eating disorders in an attempt to escape or numb negative emotions
  7. Sleeping issues including trouble going to sleep or staying asleep
  8. Suffering from feelings of detachment, or feeling "dead inside" (This is perhaps the most devastating of the signs, because it creates a feeling of loneliness and isolation.)
  9. Dissociation as a real disconnect in situations and conversations
  10. Hypervigilance (a constant feeling of being on guard)
  11. Suicidal thought or actions
  12. Uncontrollable anger; acting on it
  13. Self-harm, cutting, and mutilation
  14. Not being able to tolerate conflicts as they once would have
  15. Unexplained or irrational fears of people, places, or things

If you identify with any, or all, of the signs above, then you may want to ask yourself if it's time to talk with a therapist about your trauma. Is it easier to function as you are, or to work through the pain you have suffered? It's a question that only you can answer, but rest assured, you are not alone.

There are many people who have been traumatized, may even have developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), who have worked through the events of their past, and recovered. There is help and support out there.

Find Jami on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google+, and on her blog, Sober Grace.

APA Reference
DeLoe, J. (2016, June 10). 15 Common Signs of Unresolved Trauma, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/traumaptsdblog/2016/06/15-common-signs-of-unresolved-trauma



Author: Jami DeLoe

Jami DeLoe is a freelance writer and addiction blogger. She is an advocate for mental health awareness and addiction recovery and is a recovering alcoholic herself. Find Jami DeLoe on her blog, "Sober Grace," Twitter, and Facebook.

Shelly
says:
February, 25 2019 at 2:24 pm
I had a horrible memory come to surface just out of the blue. It’s so weird because I even remember when I had to block it out and how I did it! The horrible event happened when I was 16 and To think Iv gone around all these years with something like that blocked out! I even have four years of high school blocked out! I’m so angry about the things I went through and what cruel evil people did to me. I live in isolation and it’s awful but I don’t trust anyone and I get very depressed! I can’t handle another hurt! Tired of being in pain! Therapy has never helped me and it’s so expensive. And reliving everything serves no purpose. Just keep you awake a night! I just try and find some beauty in the World even if it’s looking at nature or cooking or buying something pretty.. reading a good book. I try and find things to lift me up. That’s all you can do is survive. Sometimes I can’t do anything at all but I get through those days too! The ones that just about kill me the ones where you don’t know how many more tears you can cry. Can’t give up and I won’t!
Katrina Kleinman
says:
December, 8 2018 at 3:29 pm
I was forced to give up my child for adoption at birth when I was 16. I have alot of guilt and shame. She was born on my 16th birthday. I have talked Therapists about this and I have never resolved this. They always dig into my childhood and the abusive relationship my parents had. What should I do? My daughter recently turned 42 and I recently turned 58. Im so lost.
December, 13 2018 at 6:08 pm
Hi Katrina,
I'm so sorry you're struggling with this. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to have to give up your child, especially when it wasn't your choice. Have you seen a trauma-informed therapist specifically? They can help you work through the trauma of what happened and how it is still affecting you today.
Tristan.
says:
November, 30 2018 at 7:51 am
It feels very bleak for the person who tries to change what happened to them as a child. I’ve been scapegoated by my parents and family since I was a young child. I’m in my early 40’s and cannot have meaningful relationships with friends or a significant other because I feel like I’m always being attacked. My reality doesn’t make sense ever. I make irrational decisions based on fear and to everyone else they don’t understand. Its a vicious cycle, where there is no escape.
Anne Fanucchi
says:
November, 3 2018 at 7:50 pm
I have 12 out of the 15 symptoms listed I have gone to therapy many times only to be judged and placed on medication that would not work or make me worse I also have PTSD now everything I a mess and I have nowhere to turn for help...
LC
says:
September, 4 2018 at 9:44 am
Thank you for sharing this as it helps me to know I am not the only one that went through such traumatic moments in my childhood. My older brother was my abuser. I’ve had it blocked from my mind for over 40 years! Three things popped up in separate conversations with different people that brought back all the horrible memories! All these side effects you explained are a part of who I became as an adult! My depression, anxiety, self worthlessness, constant nightmares and restless sleep are all stemmed from what he did to me for at least 2 years of my life! I have no idea how to get over the horrible memories!
Afrika
says:
December, 28 2018 at 1:41 am
My situation mirrors yours. I started talking to a therapist and we started EDM therapy which helps me to deal with it.
Jack Helmer
says:
August, 23 2018 at 9:59 pm
I found my girlfriend dead of an accidental overdose and 1 week later I had someone over because I was afraid to sleep alone he died as well of an overdose that he snuck into my house I went to hospital and was kicked out after 3 days because I wasnt suicidal but nothing got corrected I still suffer all sorts of anxiety hearing voices afraid to sleep etc
kristina
says:
July, 31 2018 at 12:45 am
I was physically abused by my cousins and mentally abused by my mother and siblings and I sometimes don't know why I feel certain ways now that I am away from it all.
Janine Bradbury
says:
June, 10 2017 at 8:09 am
I lost my two children to adoption and have felt all those things still do it's awful I've never been the same since
Was Blind But Now I See...
says:
June, 11 2016 at 2:54 pm
I suffer from most of these things, such as anxiety, shame, depression, avoidance, eating disorder, hyper vigilance, suicidal ideation, anger, self harm, etc but never looked at it from the POV as stemming from unresolved trauma but now I am beginning to see the connection...

Thank you for pointing this out

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