Everyone endures potentially traumatic events at some point. Unfortunately, it is an inevitable part of life. Sometimes, these events cause trauma. If the trauma is not processed, it becomes unresolved. Unresolved trauma usually causes a long-term impact. Traumatized people tend to dissociate from the experience. This makes sense at the moment but can make recovery trickier.
The impact of unresolved trauma can be varied. For example, it can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — a form of anxiety disorder. Therefore, if anxiety is a chronic presence in your life, it helps to consider unresolved trauma as the possible root cause.
General Signs of Unresolved Trauma
- The aforementioned dissociation
- Nightmares, flashbacks, and intrusive thoughts
- Addictions and/or disordered eating
- Social withdrawal and self-isolation
- Avoiding anything or anyone that recalls the traumatic event
- Being easily startled and always on guard
- Shame, guilt, and a sense of worthlessness
- Sleep disturbances
- Feeling numb and detached
- Fits of anger
- Suicidal thoughts
Any or all of the above may dovetail with anxiety to exacerbate the situation. This can cause a general sense of dread without an obvious cause to address. Learning the root cause can dramatically expedite recovery and healing.
5 Signs Unresolved Trauma Might Be at the Root of Your Anxiety
1. An Inability to Trust
If you have been abused or neglected, your sense of trust is understandably affected. The inability to trust others adds an incredible amount of stress to your daily life.
2. Intimacy Troubles
This issue ties in directly to sign #1 above. Intimacy requires trust. It is based on being open and taking chances. Until trauma is resolved, anxiety will color and frame your relationships.
3. Irrational Fears
Once you’ve endured a trauma-inducing event, you may begin to see danger everywhere. Your flight, flight, or freeze response is stuck in the “on” position. Everything feels like a threat or a risk. Imagine what this does to your anxiety levels.
4. Lack of Motivation
This is especially true if neglect and abandonment are in your past. You ask yourself: Why bother? This is another form of losing trust. You don’t trust yourself or others so you find it difficult to take the initiative on anything.
Your friends, family, co-workers, or romantic partner may have the best of intentions. But your trauma-impacted brain feels attacked by even the most benign statement or action. This can combine in a volatile way with the presence of trauma-created anger. You and the people in your life walk on eggshells — never knowing what will be perceived as a trigger.
Self-Help Suggestions For Anxiety Created by Unresolved Trauma
- Mindfulness: Find simple ways to calm your mind and root yourself in the present moment, e.g. meditation. Free yourself of the negative impacts of living in the past or future.
- Movement: Exercise (like yoga or walking) is a proven method for managing stress. It’s also something you can do with others to help foster new connections.
- Journal: Naming your emotions and the factors that trigger them is a productive outlet for the anxiety you feel. Keep track of signs and symptoms for your therapy sessions (see below).
- Ask For Help: Don’t hesitate to lean on your support system (friends, family, loved ones, etc.). Also, make the commitment to meet with a mental health professional.
Therapy has a long and effective history for those dealing with trauma and/or anxiety. We have worked with myriad individuals who have struggled with unresolved trauma and its impact.
If the anxiety of your experience is becoming overwhelming, please read more about trauma therapy, reach out and connect. Call us for a confidential consultation. Get your recovery process started today.