It is understandable that someone who has experienced a significant trauma may choose to actively repress the disturbing memories as a self-protective measure. A traumatic event, such as witnessing or experiencing physical or sexual assault, military combat, a natural disaster, a serious accident or medical condition, or the sudden loss of a loved one, provokes powerful emotions that may be difficult to endure.
Some of the residual effects of trauma exposure include:
- Nightmares and frequent flashbacks
- Avoidance of potential triggers that are reminders of the trauma
- Sleep problems
- Emotional detachment
- Substance abuse
- Relationship problems
However, it is not healthy to avoid processing a difficult emotional experience. The resulting emotions have a purpose. These feelings convey important messages, such as making the person aware that they may need to focus on self-care such as a trauma healing retreat or possibly obtain the help of a mental health professional who can walk them through the trauma’s aftermath.
When emotional avoidance is used to repress memories of the traumatic event, the effects of the trauma can actually become deeply internalized. This can affect the mind-body connection and have a negative impact on wellness, including:
- Gastrointestinal distress, impaired immune system, heart disease
- Anger, hostility
In summary, denying the existence of significant emotional pain related to a trauma will only prolong the suffering, while potentially causing additional psychological and physical health problems.
By Marissa Katrin Maldonado, Founder, The Treatment Specialist