Signs Of Emotional Trauma In Adults

Many adults will experience emotional trauma in their lives. Emotional trauma can happen due to an event in their lives that has left a lasting impact, with consequences for both emotional and physical health. For some people, emotional trauma doesn’t present itself immediately, and it’s only once a sufferer shows symptoms, or it impacts their daily life, that they start to take action.

By learning to recognize the signs of emotional trauma, you can help yourself or someone you care about get the help needed to deal with trauma and heal. Learn more about some of the signs of emotional trauma in adults and how you can get the help you need with Peaks Recovery.

What is Emotional Trauma?

Emotional trauma is a type of trauma that happens as a result of an event (or events) or experience where a person feels unsafe or insecure. Some examples of these events include an accident, assault or a death. It could also happen as a result of witnessing these events. These events can cause a considerable level of stress, which then leads to signs and symptoms that can have an impact on a person’s health and wellbeing.

Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will go on to develop emotional trauma. Trauma affects people in different ways, and one person’s experience or reaction to an event may be different to another’s. 

Common Causes of Trauma

Some of the most common causes of trauma include:

  • Single events: including an accident, injury, attack, witnessing a death, dealing with a death or the end of a relationship.

Often, these events can be unexpected or sudden, which can add to the feelings of stress experienced by the sufferer. 

  • Ongoing events: including bullying, abuse, domestic violence, neglect, illness, and injury.

These events may have occurred recently or in the past, or may be a culmination of several aspects leading to emotional trauma.

Sign of Emotional Trauma in Adults

It’s important to know that the signs of emotional trauma vary from person to person. Although there are some common signs that may indicate someone is suffering from emotional trauma, including: 

  • Flashbacks, nightmares or intrusive thoughts about the event.
  • Mood swings, angry outbursts.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficulty focusing, memory problems.
  • Fear, anxiety or panic attacks.
  • Feeling triggered in situations or locations that are associated with the traumatic event.
  • Depression.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and social activities.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Behaviors that may affect relationships, including a lack of trust.
  • Self-harming.
  • Reliance on substances, including drugs and alcohol, to cope with symptoms.

Some people may experience individual symptoms, while others may struggle with a combination of symptoms. Some of these symptoms may also be signs of other conditions, which is why it’s important to seek advice and treatment when faced with these

Long-Term Effects of Emotional Trauma

People who experience emotional trauma can suffer in a number of ways. Some of the long-term effects of emotional trauma include:


Like dealing with other types of stress, emotional trauma can lead to persistent anxiety in sufferers. Being constantly worried about something can awaken your body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, which can begin to have a daily impact on a sufferer.

Changes to behavior

Emotional trauma can lead to behavioral changes in sufferers. This can range from irritability and mood swings, to becoming more withdrawn from friends and social situations. In more severe cases, people may experience the need to distract from their feelings through thrill-seeking behavior, which can put a person in some dangerous situations.

Difficulty focusing

As the brain processes trauma, it can lead to cognitive issues that can impair a person’s ability to focus. Some sufferers may lack concentration or develop memory problems, which can begin to impact someone’s daily life – particularly at work or school. 

Physical health problems

The impact of emotional trauma can also lead to health problems. Anxiety can put pressure on the body, which can impact immunity, leaving a person vulnerable to viruses and diseases, while also increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions.

As mentioned above, trauma can lead some people to develop addictions. As individuals try to process events or numb themselves to what they’re feeling, they can develop addictive behaviors that are difficult to control. Some sufferers of emotional trauma turn to alcohol and drugs (including prescription drugs) that can become addictive in time. Others may become addicted to eating, sex, exercise and other activities as a way to distract from their emotional trauma.

The Importance of Trauma-Informed Care

The road to recovery from trauma takes time, and if you or someone you love is experiencing signs of emotional trauma, seeking professional help can be an effective way of healing and moving on with your life.

Being able to work through trauma with people who understand it can make a big difference to your recovery. By understanding the impact trauma can have on addiction and other behaviors, professionals can help put sufferers on the right path to recovery. From stabilization to continued care and treatment, individuals can get the help they need to recover and learn how to deal with trauma and stress in the future.

Trauma Treatment at Peaks Recovery

At Peaks Recovery, we provide an effective trauma recovery program designed to help sufferers heal, reconnect and learn new healthy behaviors. With a multi-step process that begins with an in-depth assessment, sufferers can get the help they need to move forward in a healthy way. If emotional trauma has led to addiction, the treatment program can be tailored to help address this too.

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional trauma, it’s important to get help. Contact us today for more information about our trauma treatment program or to seek advice from a member of our friendly team.

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.