Unprocessed trauma can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and the signs can be different for each person. Here are some common signs that someone may be struggling with unprocessed trauma:
Flashbacks or nightmares: One of the most common signs of unprocessed trauma is experiencing flashbacks or nightmares of the traumatic event.
Avoidance behaviours: People with unprocessed trauma may avoid certain people, places, or situations that remind them of the trauma.
Hypervigilance: This is when someone is constantly on guard, alert to potential danger, and easily startled.
Emotional dysregulation: People with unprocessed trauma may have difficulty regulating their emotions. They may experience extreme anger, sadness, or anxiety in response to triggers.
Negative self-talk: People with unprocessed trauma may have negative thoughts about themselves, such as feeling guilty or ashamed about the trauma.
Self-destructive behaviours: People with unprocessed trauma may engage in self-destructive behaviours such as substance abuse, self-harm, or reckless behaviour.
Difficulty with relationships: People with unprocessed trauma may struggle to form and maintain healthy relationships with others due to trust issues, fear of intimacy, or difficulty communicating.
Shame or guilt: The person may feel responsible for the trauma or believe they did something wrong, leading to feelings of shame or guilt.
Physical symptoms: The person may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained pain.
Emotional numbness: The person may feel emotionally disconnected as if they are unable to experience emotions fully.
Difficulty sleeping: The person may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep and may experience nightmares or night terrors.
Changes in behaviour or personality: The person may exhibit changes in behaviour or personality, such as becoming more withdrawn, irritable or aggressive.
It's important to note that these signs are not definitive and can be present for a variety of reasons. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help from a therapist or mental health provider who specializes in trauma.
Ioana Rotaru is a London-based Psychotherapist specialising in working with people with histories of childhood emotional neglect and trauma who now want to improve their relationship with themselves and others. If you would like to explore addressing any of the issues in this article, please get in touch with Ioana at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 15-minute consultation about how therapy might help.