What increases my risk for emotional trauma?

Sheri Van Dijk

Unfortunately, many people experience events in their lives that result in symptoms of emotional trauma - the experience leaves a person feeling vulnerable, like the world is a dangerous place; and as a result, anxiety increases and depression can often set in. The person might experience vivid memories (or "flashbacks") or nightmares about the event(s).

But why is it that two people can live through the same experience and only one might develop these kinds of symptoms? First, your emotional health before the event will play a role - if you already had an anxiety disorder or depression, you'll be more likely to develop these on-going problems.

The people you have in your life supporting you also play a part. If you have supportive family and friends; if you receive assistance in the form of psychotherapy or other support; if you have people around you you know you can count on, you'll be less likely to suffer long-term consequences. If you're more isolated, however, or if the people in your life don't understand and don't make efforts to support you, you'll have more difficulties.

Of course, not everyone is going to understand what you're going through; it's not so much that people get it, though, but that they try. That they don't tell you that you shouldn't be feeling the way you're feeling, but instead just allow you to have your emotions - and be there to support you in any way they can as you recover from your experience.

Although, it is impossible to pinpoint exactly why one person may be more susceptible to emotional trauma than another, there are several risk factors that have been identified in increased traumatic suffering. If you are already suffering from an overload of stress or have suffered more than one recent loss, you're at increased risk. Furthermore, emotional trauma during childhood increases your risk of suffering trauma as an adult.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.