Undoing Emotional Numbing May Be Key to Trauma Recovery

Emotional dysregulation in PTSD causes personal, professional, and relationship problems. How can we notice our emotions and make use of them in the face of unresolved trauma?

Grant H Brenner MD DFAPA
6 min readMay 20, 2024

People with PTSD struggle with a variety of symptoms, including re-experiencing traumatic memories via nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and unwanted repetitive patterns of behavior; depressive symptoms and cognitive clouding; difficulty with excessive reactivity and hyperarousal; sudden shifts into states of panic, fear, and rage; and, often, symptoms of avoidance, dissociation, and emotional numbing.

Suppression of emotion can preserve function but can hinder development as development is affect-dependent.

With PTSD, both classic PTSD after discrete traumatic experiences and complex PTSD (cPTSD) following years of trauma and distress, sudden shifts from positive to negative emotional states create terrible difficulties in terms of both personal suffering and destruction of personal and professional relationships and performance.

Losing It

Emotional dysregulation also impacts people surrounding those with PTSD. For example, research on intergenerational…



Grant H Brenner MD DFAPA

Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, Entrepreneur, Writer, Speaker, Disaster Responder, Advocate, Photographer