Understanding Healthy Versus Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

Around 12 million people experience the symptoms of PTSD each year. For anyone who has ever dealt with serious mental health issues like trauma, you understand how painful and hopeless this experience can be, especially when the pain of physical or psychological trauma is ongoing. Developing coping mechanisms is key to surviving trauma and returning to a healthy life. Learn about unhealthy coping mechanisms and the importance of quality inpatient mental health treatment.

What Is Trauma?

Trauma is a condition that’s related to the brain. Sometimes trauma occurs in an instant, while other times, it’s the result of ongoing stimuli that produce a long-term effect on mental health.

One of the most challenging aspects of living with trauma is that it’s hard to explain to anyone who’s never experienced this mental health condition. That’s because trauma causes the brain not to function normally. You can try to ignore the discomfort and pretend that the trauma doesn’t exist, but the problem won’t go away on its own. In the most simple terms, trauma produces a shock to the brain. 

How Does Trauma Feel?

The symptoms of trauma can range from very subtle to overwhelming. Depending on the source of the trauma, it might show up in the form of depression or severe anxiety, or it could feel as if the traumatic event is constantly recurring. Trauma is always with you but is very difficult to describe.

Common Causes of Trauma

An unlimited number of stimuli can cause trauma. Mental health conditions like PTSD are linked to extreme events like combat and violence. There are more quiet ways trauma can happen, including mental abuse, emotional manipulation, and conditions such as food insecurity or losing a loved one. The key thing to understand about trauma is that the brain cannot cope with what is happening. You experience a shock to the system that impacts your mental health, forcing the brain to recalibrate, often in very unhealthy ways.

Common Symptoms of Trauma

When the human mind has been traumatized, it will immediately go into a protective mode to defend itself from potential future traumatic events. Triggers or events that remind you of the initial trauma can put you back in that moment. Trauma symptoms include freezing up, severe anxiety, sweating, feelings of numbness, or an inability to contrate.

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

People cope with trauma in many different ways. Some are healthy, but many are unhealthy. The most common unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma include abusing drugs and alcohol. Other people turn to destructive lifestyle choices such as self-isolation and self-abuse. You might also find yourself withdrawing from family and friends or ignoring the trauma.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

The key to overcoming trauma events is to learn healthy coping mechanisms. You need to start by acknowledging the presence of trauma in your life. Acknowledging trauma isn’t easy, but it’s essential to improving your mental health. For example, it’s important to seek mental health treatment from a facility dealing with trauma. A staff of trained mental health professionals will help you feel heard, understand what you are going through, and provide the feedback and guidance needed to help you begin the healing process.

You should also focus on healthy lifestyle choices such as eating the right foods, getting plenty of exercise, and meditating. Meditation is a simple yet powerful mental health coping mechanism that can help your mind rise above the pain of trauma. 

Recognizing the Need for Mental Health Treatment

Everyone responds to trauma differently, but recognizing the need for mental health treatment is the first step in healing so that you can be as healthy and happy as possible.

Fortunately, understanding that you aren’t alone in suffering from the symptoms of trauma will help encourage you to get the help you need to expedite the healing process.

Benefits of Quality Inpatient Mental Health Treatment

It’s no secret that many people suffer from serious mental health problems caused by various traumatic experiences. That’s why it’s essential to ensure you or your loved one receives proper inpatient mental health treatment rather than attempting to heal through unhealthy coping mechanisms for trauma. Please contact us today to learn more about inpatient mental health treatment in South Florida.

Medically Reviewed: August 23, 2022

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff

Clinical Team

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Content on this page has been reviewed by CWC Medical Staff for accuracy.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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