How To Overcome An Emotional Shock

Last updated by Katie M.

I think we’ve all experienced a more or less traumatic shock at some point in our lives. For me, it was my mother’s death. This event was incredibly violent for my mental health. I didn’t expect to lose my mother in an accident at 25. This is what’s called an emotional shock. It’s a psychological and physical reaction to a shocking situation. It can affect our lives and develop into a psychiatric illness. We should never minimize what we feel after a traumatic event. I did so for several years, which prevented me from coming to terms with this event. So how can you recognize it? How can you heal from an emotional shock? All will be explained.

How To Overcome An Emotional Shock
Contents: 

What are the symptoms of an emotional shock?

What is an emotional shock?

When we experience an emotional shock, it’s difficult to deal with our emotions and to understand what we are feeling. It usually happens after a traumatic event that completely overwhelms us. It can be a bereavement, a break-up, a family problem, an accident, sexual violence, etc. Likewise, it’s usually a negative event that becomes a psychological trauma. Emotional shock causes after-effects and can become an illness if it’s not treated.

🧠 Usually, a traumatic shock lasts from a few hours to a few days. If the symptoms of shock last for at least a month after the event, it’s called post-traumatic stress. The psychiatrist Gérard Macqueron explains that the state of shock can become chronic and be complicated by the appearance of other pathologies. This ranges from mood disorder to alcoholism and depression.

What does emotional shock feel like?

When we experience a traumatic event, our bodies will secrete a large quantity of stress hormones. According to Dr Macqueron, these can provoke 3 main types of reaction. First, immobility, we’re in a state of shock, and we freeze in disbelief. Then flight because we don’t understand the situation. And finally, there are inappropriate reactions. We may act confused, disoriented, or even violently or disrespectfully. As well as these behaviors, symptoms that are often physical appear. They can vary from one person to another and can be numerous.

Symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • breathing difficulties,
  • sweating,
  • heart palpitations,
  • digestive problems,
  • trembling and stuttering,
  • crying,
  • feelings of sadness or despair,
  • trouble sleeping,
  • skin rash,
  • guilt or shame (particularly in the case of a sexual assault),
  • physical pain,
  • confusion.

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How do you recover after an emotional shock?

How to react?

It’s not easy to take care of yourself when you’ve experienced a particularly traumatizing event. We’re so immersed in our suffering that we don’t realize we need help. Taking care of an emotional shock therefore depends on different cornerstones, such as being surrounded by the right people. The people who love us will see that there has been a change and that we’ve experienced something traumatic. The symptoms allow us to become aware of a change in frame of mind or personality. And most importantly, we need to be able to express in words what has traumatized us. Consulting a therapy is more than necessary if we notice that the symptoms are still present. But beyond talking about shock, there’s a method that can help us to overcome the trauma.

Treating an emotional shock

The most suitable treatment for an emotional shock is EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). It’s a technique that was discovered by Francine Shapiro in 1987 and is recognized by the WHO. EMDR must capture our attention by visual (often eye movement) or audible stimuli to lower unconscious defenses. This method will allow you to understand the emotions experienced during a psychological shock. By doing this exercise, you will be able to move one and no longer emotionally relive the traumatic memory.

➡ EMDR cannot be done alone, it has to be done with a therapist. That’s why it’s important to consult a health professional if you’ve experienced a traumatic event.

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How long does it take to recover from emotional shock?

Emotional shock usually disappears within a few hours or even days. When these symptoms persist one month after the event, it is called post-traumatic stress disorder. If left untreated, this condition can become chronic and be complicated by the appearance of other pathologies such as mood disorders, depression, personality changes, alcoholism, or drug addiction.

Editor’s note: Treatment is necessary

An emotional shock requires treatment, and the sooner this treatment begins, the lower the risk of developing a chronic psychiatric condition. EMDR is particularly effective for treating an emotional shock.

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