Is shutting down emotionally a trauma response?
It is often an unconscious response to trauma or distressing events that you have internalised. A kind of body memory that has become frozen because you shut down and were unable to process your emotions at the time.
When trauma and chronic stress become overwhelming, our nervous system tends to move into a shutdown state. Counsellors often refer to it as dissociation, a common response to traumatic events.
There are a number of different things that can cause emotional numbness to occur. While depression and anxiety are the most common causes, others include the following: Stress and stress hormones: Elevated cortisol levels can lead to emotional numbness in some people.
Right after a trauma, almost every survivor will find it hard to stop thinking about what happened. Stress reactions—such as fear, anxiety, jumpiness, upsetting memories, and efforts to avoid reminders—will gradually decrease over time for most people.
Trina was demonstrating a “dissociative shutdown,” a symptom often found in children faced with a repeated, frightening event, such as being raped by a caregiver, for which there's no escape. Over time, this response may generalize to associated thoughts or emotions that can trigger the reaction.
She said that people can shut down their emotions in order to protect themselves from their pain, but that this defense mechanism has unintended consequences. There are a few things that can happen when we shut down emotionally. One is that we are so numb that we allow ourselves to be in bad, even dangerous situations.
Depression is a state of behavioral shutdown.
The Duration of a Nervous Breakdown Varies by Individual. A nervous breakdown is not a diagnosable mental health condition, and that means there are no official criteria to describe it, including duration. These mental health crises are highly variable, lasting a few hours for one person or weeks for another.
- “I understand you're feeling…”
- “I've given you a lot to consider. I'll give you time to digest.”
- “Let's take a breather and come back to this another time.”
- “I'm sorry I said…” or “I'm sorry I didn't…”
- “I'm not upset with you. ...
- “When you ignore me I feel…”
When someone has shut down, they certainly look like they don't care. The facial expression is usually neutral, there is little to no expression of emotion, and voice tone becomes monotonous. Answers to questions are short, and you begin to interpret all of this as indifference.
Why do I keep shutting everyone out?
Pushing people away is one way of avoiding intimacy. In fact, this avoidance can act as a defense mechanism for people afraid of getting hurt in relationships. This could be because a past relationship ended badly, perhaps with rejection or even bereavement.
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.
Trauma is defined as “a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing.” In reality, trauma can come from any experience that makes us feel unsafe, physically or emotionally, and that disrupts the way we cope or function.
If someone is experiencing dissociation during a therapy session, it may show up through a certain eye expression or through shallow breathing. Or when the attention fades or there is agitation, or other behaviors.
Memory loss surrounding specific events, interactions, or experiences. A sense of detachment from your emotions (aka emotional numbness) and identity. Feeling as if the world is unreal; out-of-body experiences. Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide.
Flag: If there is still no resolution of the threatening situation you will progress into the fifth stage, “flag,” which is the collapse, helplessness, and despair that signals parasympathetic based nervous system shut-down and immobilization. Dissociative reactions dominate this phase.
The main reason they can't talk is they're too stressed, or their anxiety levels are too high in that social setting that no word comes out of their mouth. People with selective mutism literally can't speak in certain situations. The disorder literally means 'being mute in selective situations. '
Displacement is the worst defense mechanism for your relationships. Not only does it not fix the problem, but it pushes people away.
According to one report, the male stress response can be characterized as “fight-or-flight.” When men are faced with a stressful situation, their bodies release hormones that prompt them to either stay and confront the problem, or to run away and avoid it.
After a traumatic experience, the emotional toll may be so heavy that people may avoid anything that might remind them of what happened. Some people's efforts to block residual feelings of trauma may look like adapting avoidance behavior to avoid feelings of pain, also called trauma blocking.
How do you unlock repressed trauma?
- individual therapy modalities, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy or cognitive processing therapy (CPT)
- group therapy.
- art as therapy or expression.
Like with emotional detachment, mental detachment is simply a coping mechanism to extreme stress. Your mind and body are under such intense stress with panic attacks that your brain decides to simply shut everything down for a while. It's not dangerous nor does it mean anything about your mental health.
Basically, just like a computer crashes, our brain shuts down, drastically limiting our ability to process all that is coming in. We often speak about this as being, or feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
the prefrontal cortex can shut down, allowing the amygdala, a locus for regulating emotional activity, to take over, inducing mental paralysis and panic. further the physiology of acute stress and are considering behavioral and pharmaceutical interventions to help us retain composure when the going gets tough.
You're trying to work through an issue, but suddenly someone shuts down and goes unresponsive. This reaction is known as stonewalling. From the outside, it can feel like that person has shut down emotionally. If you're the one shutting down, however, you may be inwardly dysregulated.
Initial reactions to trauma can include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. Most responses are normal in that they affect most survivors and are socially acceptable, psychologically effective, and self-limited.
It is pretty common actually. In fact, depression is a state of turning off your emotions because you're overwhelmed by it. In some cases, people unconsciously erased memory as well as a mental defense. So it is scientifically possible.
'When you shut down emotion, you're also affecting your immune system, your nervous system.
Many people suffer from shutting down when they are upset. There is no one cause of this behavior. It could be a self-defense mechanism, it could be an inability to process negative feelings, and it could be due to dissociation. These are just a few reasons why someone may shut down when they are upset.
The behavioral shutdown model states that if an organism faces more risk or expenditure than reward from activities, the best evolutionary strategy may be to withdraw from them. This model proposes that emotional pain, like physical pain, serves a useful adaptive purpose.