Understanding Trauma Bond Withdrawal Symptoms

If you or someone you love has a trauma bond, breaking free is challenging. Trauma attachments are solid and subtle, keeping you in a toxic relationship while knowing it’s terrible for you. As with alcoholism, these unhealthy relationships are hard to break due to withdrawal symptoms. After leaving a toxic relationship, you may suffer acute trauma bond withdrawal symptoms that make you want to see them again. 

I know trauma bond withdrawal symptoms go beyond sadness and can make you feel like you can’t survive without your Ex. Understanding that these feelings are not real, establishing self-compassion, and giving yourself the tools to cope with detachment will help you break free from the abusive relationships and heal.

Related: 7 Stages of Trauma Bonding & Recovery

What Is a Trauma Bond? 

Trauma bond relationships are deep and complicated emotional bonds that form between you and someone who has caused you a lot of mental pain. It usually happens when someone is being abused, and there is a cycle of abuse followed by brief periods of kindness or affection. 

It’s the trauma bond that makes you feel close to the narcissist who hurts you. Even though the relationship is unhealthy, you may feel emotionally dependent on that person. Love, fear, and dependency may come together. The abuser confuses and harms you by causing both misery and comfort. Trauma recovery requires self-awareness, a support system, and professional help to traverse the emotional pain ties.

Related: Understanding and Overcoming Traumatic Invalidation

Trauma Bond Withdrawal Symptoms

Here are some of the most common trauma bond withdrawal symptoms:

Emotional Instability: As you process the end of the toxic relationship, you may experience mood swings, such as fits of sadness, anger, or anxiety. These mood swings are common.

Cravings for contact: For the same reason that you could experience intense cravings for contact while you are detoxing from an addictive substance, you might also experience an overpowering want to reach out to the narcissist. This desire may be caused by memories of the narcissist’s affection or approval.

Cognitive dissonance: You may experience cognitive dissonance, which is characterized by the struggle to reconcile conflicting thoughts and beliefs regarding the narcissist, resulting in mental and emotional conflict. 

Jealousy and obsession: You may find yourself overwhelmed by thoughts about the narcissist’s relationship with another person. Painfully, jealousy serves as a reminder of the connection. 

Physical symptoms: During the process of withdrawing from a toxic relationship, you may experience physical symptoms linked to stress, such as headaches, fatigue, and changes in your appetite or sleep patterns.

Fear of independence: One of the most typical withdrawals of narcissistic abuse is the fear of independence, which is the feeling that you are afraid of your ability to function alone. In toxic relationships, your self-confidence might be eroded, which is a regular occurrence. 

Withdrawal symptoms of codependency include: If the relationship fostered codependency, you can feel anxious when you consider the possibility of making decisions on your own at some point.

Isolation and Loneliness: As you adjust to life without the constant presence of the narcissist, you may experience a rise of feelings of isolation or loneliness.

Self-Esteem Damage: Our self-esteem suffers whenever we go through a breakup because it is a traumatic experience. But this is especially true in the case of toxic relationship breakups, mainly if you allow yourself to be mistreated by your ex-partner, and as a result, you lose trust and respect for yourself.

Working with a qualified therapist can assist you in putting the pieces back together, restoring your self-esteem, and repairing your trust in yourself, all of which are essential steps toward avoiding toxic relationships in the future.

Related: Enmeshment Trauma: Causes, Effects, and Healing

The physical and emotional impact of trauma bond withdrawal symptoms

Physical Impact

Withdrawing from a trauma-related bond can have very negative effects on your body and mind. Your body may show signs similar to those of stressed or anxious people.

During withdrawal, the body’s stress reaction may be heightened, which can cause a faster heart rate, tense muscles, and trouble sleeping. The emotional turmoil you’re feeling as you try to break free from the strong connection you’ve made with the cause of experiencing trauma can be seen in these physical symptoms.

Emotional Impact

The aftereffects of experiencing trauma bond withdrawal symptoms can be highly overpowering on an emotional level. You may experience feelings of loss, grief, and an intense longing for the individual you are distancing yourself from. 

You may have second thoughts about your decision to sever the connection, experiencing periods of uncertainty and possibly suffering feelings of emptiness or loneliness. A void that is difficult to navigate might be created when something familiar is no longer there, even if the familiar was detrimental.

Related: The Narcissist Checklist: 25 Red Flags to Spot On

Why trauma bond withdrawal symptoms are so intense

As a result of the fact that they originate from a connection that was more about power and control than affection, the trauma bond withdrawal symptoms can feel overwhelming and decisive. 

In a trauma bond with a narcissist, a significant emotional attachment is formed as a result of the cycle of abuse and intermittent reinforcement. In the process of becoming accustomed to the highs of the “good times” and the lows of mistreatment, your brain develops a dependency that is comparable to that of an addiction. 

The unexpected emotional gap that occurs when the relationship is cut off, as well as the end of this potent “rollercoaster,” can result in severe psychological suffering and a profound sense of loss. This intensity is evidence that the link has left a profound, albeit unhealthy, mark on your emotional well-being.

The Duration of Trauma Bond Withdrawal Symptoms

The process of moving through the signs of trauma bonding is a journey that is highly personal and non-linear. Although it might vary significantly from one individual to the next, having a rough idea of the chronology can provide a road map for what to anticipate moving forward. 

As healing is rarely a linear process, let’s divide it down into stages and keep in mind that these stages may overlap or recur depending on the circumstances:

Denial and shock: In the beginning, there is frequently a feeling of confusion, disbelief, and numbness. You may try to ignore the reality of the withdrawal, hoping that it is a nightmare from which you will soon recover.

Pain and Guilt: At the same time, as denial begins to fade away, pain begins to creep in. You may feel guilty about your “role” in the relationship and what you could have done differently. 


Frustration can develop into a rage, either directed at the narcissist, the situation, or even at oneself. This anger can then be used to bargain. In this situation, you can try to negotiate for the suffering to stop or to return to the “normal” you were used to.

Depression and Reflection: You may go through a period of grieving and introspection. The truth of the loss begins to sink in at this stage, characterized by silence and introspection.

As you acclimate to the new reality that you are experiencing without the narcissist, you will notice that the intense symptoms begin to reduce over time. You will also find that you are experiencing more tranquil times. 

Rebuilding yourself: To begin rebuilding yourself and your life, you must first begin the reconstruction process and work through it. In addition to beginning to establish boundaries, you may also decide to seek counselling, coaching, or other coping skills.

Hope and Acceptance: At long last, acceptance begins to develop; the narcissist and the link you shared begin to lose their influence over you. Hope emerges as you imagine a future where the tie no longer binds you.

Related: Why People With PTSD Use Emotional Avoidance to Cope

How to Cope with Trauma Bond Withdrawal Symptoms

To overcome the withdrawal symptoms associated with trauma bonds, patience, self-compassion, and professional support are required. The following is a list of methods that can assist in coping with the process:

1. Seek Professional Help

If you are going through the process of trauma bond withdrawal symptoms, having expert support is extremely important to your healing journey. The stages of trauma bonding can be guided by a trained therapist or counsellor, who can also equip clients with tools to cope with the emotional responses that they experience. 

Patrick Carnes, the creator of the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals, has conducted considerable study on trauma bonds and devised treatment strategies that have proven to be beneficial.

2. Practice Self-Care

Make self-care activities that are beneficial to both your emotional and physical well-being a top priority. Creating a secure environment for healing and regaining a feeling of self-worth can be accomplished by participating in activities that you find enjoyable.

3. Establish a network of support.

Establish a network of support consisting of friends, family members, or support groups that can provide you with knowledge, compassion, and encouragement. Developing relationships with people who have been through experiences that are comparable to your own can be especially beneficial.

4. Challenge Negative Thoughts

You should make an effort to challenge and reframe the negative attitudes and beliefs about yourself that were instilled during the trauma bond. It is essential for healing to develop a more positive view of oneself.

5. Set Boundaries

Learning to establish boundaries and recognize warning signs is essential to avoid getting back into unhealthy relationships. The establishment of sound boundaries is necessary to break the cycle of abuse.

6. Go No-Contact

 If possible, avoid contact with your ex to break a trauma attachment. Communication is necessary if you have children with your ex. Healing will be more effortless if you don’t have kids and can stop seeing your ex.

7. Try Healing Practices

A reduction in anxiety and an increase in emotional equilibrium can be achieved via the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and other therapeutic activities. Practices like these can also assist in regulating the nervous system and managing emotional distress.

8. Build Healthy Relationships

It is essential to have a solid understanding of what forms a healthy connection to successfully break free from a dysfunctional relationship and a trauma bond. To maintain healthy relationships, it is necessary to have trust, open communication, and mutual respect.

These situations do not entail any form of abuse, manipulation, or imbalance of power. Together, partners in a good relationship provide emotional support and encourage each other to engage in positive activities. 

Books and websites recognized in the relationship field can provide you with helpful information and resources for developing healthy relationships.

9. Remind yourself this will pass

It is essential to keep in mind that the discomfort associated with distancing oneself from a trauma bond does not persist forever. You will gradually begin to feel better as you work through the painful sentiments, and finally, you will no longer have strong feelings about your ex in any manner, shape, or form, regardless of how you perceive them.

By keeping this in mind, you will be able to endure the withdrawal symptoms for a sufficient amount of time to allow the connection to end and make room for partnerships that are more beneficial to your health.

Conclusion

It is essential for individuals who are seeking healing from abusive relationships to be aware of the symptoms of trauma bond withdrawal and to have a comprehensive awareness of the complexity of trauma bonds.

Keep in mind that the process of healing from trauma connections demands patience, self-compassion, and support from your community. Individuals can break out from the cycle of abuse and discover a way to have relationships that are better and more fulfilling if they can recognize the indicators of intense trauma bonding withdrawal symptoms and seek assistance.

FAQS 

How to Break Free from a Trauma Bond with a Narcissist

If you’re trying to break up with a narcissist after trauma, you’ll need healthy boundaries and competent help. Narcissist relationships are complex to quit, and you may be confused about what transpired. An effective therapist can validate your experiences, clarify your thoughts, process complex emotions, and help you avoid narcissistic relationships.

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