Is Old Trauma Affecting You More Than You Realize?

Traumatic events can fundamentally impact how safe you feel in the world. When you endure a trauma, both your body and mind store what happened. Even if you feel like you’ve moved on, your past may have more of a hold over you than you realize, and this can affect you in both insidious and profound ways. Here are some signs to consider:

You Often Feel Anxious

Anxiety is a normal response that everyone experiences, but trauma-related anxiety often looks like hypervigilance, restlessness, intrusive thoughts, and a heightened sense of doom. Even when life feels calm, it can be hard to feel present and in the moment. It’s like you’re always waiting for something bad to happen, and when something problematic does happen, this reinforces the anxiety.

It’s not uncommon for people with acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to also have an anxiety disorder. The symptoms often overlap, especially when someone experienced childhood trauma or if the trauma occurred during critical developmental milestones.

You Feel Too Clingy or Too Guarded in Relationships

Interpersonal trauma can affect the quality of your adult relationships. For example, you might find that you trust others too easily. You may really want commitment, and this can cause you to overlook important red flags and move into things too quickly. Others may perceive you as too needy or clingy, even when that isn’t your intention.

You may also experience the opposite issue where you’re more avoidant in your relationships. Being vulnerable with others feels much too threatening, so you keep people at a safe distance. This can make it hard to enjoy meaningful connections.

In both cases, mistrust tends to be a pervasive issue in relationships. This can cause patterns of self-sabotage in relationships, and it can make it very hard to feel safe when you’re around others. You’re worried that past experiences will repeat themselves, and you might feel stuck in the same negative emotions you felt a long time ago.

You Have Unexplained Physical Symptoms

Research is still unpacking the complex relationship between trauma, mental health, and physical pain. People with histories of childhood trauma, for example, are more likely to experience recurrent physical symptoms of headaches, stomach problems, and body tension. They’re also more likely to get sick.

Trauma also affects daily life functioning. For example, many people with traumatic experiences have sleep and appetite problems. The cumulative effects of these issues can adversely affect your physical health.

You Avoid Conflict

Sometimes unresolved trauma leads people to avoid conflict. This is an attempt to curb yourself from experiencing more emotional pain. You don’t want to risk feeling hurt (or even vulnerable) with another person.

Unfortunately, avoiding conflict altogether just isn’t a realistic goal. This pattern often results in people-pleasing behavior, which can cause resentment in relationships. Or it can cause you to avoid intimacy altogether, which can sometimes heighten anxiety or depression symptoms.

You Struggle With Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a common reaction to unresolved childhood trauma. Some people grow up only receiving praise when they accomplish something meaningful. This reinforces the concept that their worth is conditional and that it’s based on what they can achieve. Others may be shamed if they make a mistake, which they then internalize to believe that anything less than perfectionism is a sign of failure.

Striving for excellence is generally a virtuous goal. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be skilled in something or do right by others. But if perfectionism stems from a desire to feel validated or even avoid difficult emotions, it could be a trauma response.

You Often Self-Medicate

There is a strong relationship between substance abuse and disordered eating and trauma experiences. Many people try to numb their emotional pain through these habits. While numbing yourself can provide initial relief (and comfort), these patterns can become self-destructive over time.

The desire to self-medicate is often a reaction to poor emotional regulation skills. You might feel so overwhelmed by managing your daily life that you feel the need to escape your emotions. This doesn’t make you a bad person, but it could mean that you’re struggling with unresolved trauma more than you realize.

Trauma-Informed Therapy in Texas

It’s true that everyone processes trauma differently. Even if two people face the same traumatic experience, they won’t necessarily have the same symptoms. In addition, symptoms can ebb and flow over time, which can make understanding them even more complicated.

I help treat all traumas through a compassionate and supportive approach. My goal is to provide you with unconditional positive regard as we unpack your feelings and needs. You are not alone in your healing journey, and therapy can offer you a safe place to grow and thrive.

Contact me today to learn more about my process and to schedule an initial consultation.


4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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