Breaking Free from Emotional Eating How to Stop
Emotional Eating Overview
Traumatic experiences are extraordinarily stressful events that can destroy a person’s sense of stability, security and control. Whether the threat is physical or emotional, occurs as the result of ongoing abuse or neglect, or follows in the wake of a single overwhelming event, it can have a devastating impact. Any situation that causes someone to feel overwhelmed or unsafe can be traumatic.
The following factors can turn a stressful event into a traumatic experience:
- Occurred in childhood
- Intentional cruelty
- Occurred without notice
- Feeling powerless
- Occurred repeatedly
Trauma-related problems such as flashbacks, nightmares, intentional self-harm and depression can be extremely disruptive to the trauma sufferer and their loved ones. In some cases, traumatic events are so intense the trauma sufferer disconnects from reality and loses his or her ability to cope in a healthy way.
Symptoms of Emotional Eating
People react to traumatic events in a variety of ways. Symptoms may last as long as months or years after a stressful event.
Symptoms of emotional trauma may include:
- Withdrawing from friends or family
- Feeling numb
Emotional trauma can also result in physical symptoms such as insomnia, aches and pains, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, rapid heartbeat and being easily startled. These feelings may come and go, and may resurface after a triggering event. A sound, smell or situation can also bring back memories of the traumatic experience.
If you or someone you love is showing any of the following signs of emotional trauma, treatment can help:
- Having a hard time functioning in daily life
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Experiencing intense fear, depression or anxiety
- Difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships
- Struggling with nightmares or flashbacks
- Avoiding people, places or things that remind them of the trauma
Causes of Emotional Eating
Trauma can be caused by any event that strikes feelings of fear, sadness or extreme stress, including:
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce or significant breakup
- Humiliating experience
- Life-threatening illness or disability
Trauma is highly individualized. What is overwhelming to some may be manageable to others. Being under extreme stress or having experienced a number of past losses or traumas can make it more difficult to cope with a difficult situation.
Trauma that occurs in childhood can be particularly damaging. Illness, bullying, abuse or an unstable home environment may teach a child that the world is a dangerous place. They may struggle to outgrow these fears and insecurities as they become adults. Individuals who suffered from trauma during childhood are more likely to experience trauma in adulthood.
Recovering from emotional trauma takes time, but with treatment and support, individuals can experience renewed hope. The goals of trauma recovery include:
- Manage difficult emotions without engaging in self-destructive behaviors
- Identify and change unhealthy patterns
- Reconnect actions and feelings
- Address traumatic memories
- Develop positive ways to connect with others
- Create a long-term plan for managing stress
There are a number of innovative therapies used to treat trauma such as:
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) uses eye movements and cognitive-behavioral therapy to recall traumatic memories and resolve them.
- Somatic Experiencing helps the patient concentrate on their body and release tension and energy in a physical way.
Treatment for trauma also requires developing healthy ways to cope with grief and loss. Some of the most effective interventions include cognitive-behavioral therapy and animal-assisted therapy (e.g., equine therapy or canine therapy).
CRC offers programs for individuals suffering through the emotional and psychological effects of trauma, as well as any co-existing disorders. Our programs utilize a full spectrum of integrative therapies that can assist survivors of trauma, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), acupuncture, somatic experiencing, psychopharmacological interventions, breathwork therapies, equine-assisted therapy, neurofeedback, and a range of other innovative techniques.
With the help of experienced trauma specialists, trauma survivors can process deep-seated feelings of grief, guilt, hopelessness, fear and despair, and rebuild healthy, satisfying relationships. For thousands of survivors, treatment is the key to putting traumatic experiences in the past and moving forward with the healing process.