4 Totally Normal Responses To Trauma That Get Labeled 'Codependency'

Sometimes your behaviors aren't 'codependent', they're just a normal reaction to your life experiences.

woman feeling traumatized Bricolage / Shutterstock

These days, everything seems to get labeled as co-dependency issues. Trouble sleeping without your partner? Co-dependency. Love spending all your time with them? Co-dependency again.

And yes, addressing co-dependency is important, but not every symptom falls into this category. Sometimes, what might seem like co-dependency is a trauma response that hasn't been addressed.

The Gottman Institute discusses four responses that stem from trauma rather than co-dependency problems.




4 Normal Responses To Trauma That Get Labeled 'Codependency'

1. Hypervigilance

The PTSD UK writes, “One of the many hyper-arousal symptoms of PTSD is hypervigilance.”

If you're hypervigilant you'll likely find yourself on the lookout for dangerous or threatening activities. And if not dealt with this behavior can manifest into obsession.


"Increasingly irritated and anxious, you'll become sensitive to the smallest stimuli around you," says PTSD UK. This can escalate to the point where some people feel unsafe in their own homes and struggle to sleep.

So, if you catch yourself spiraling partake in deep breathing and ground yourself. Remind yourself that you're safe in your surroundings.

"Write down your emotions in a journal," says PTSD UK. Having an outlet will help you process your emotions better. As well as help you catch any unhealthy patterns you engage in.

Be sure to go outside to ground yourself back to reality. And when in doubt always communicate your insecurities to those around you.




RELATED: 6 Types Of People You Probably Didn't Know Are Actually Stuck In A Trauma Response

2. Irritability

"Those with trauma-related disorders like PTSD often experience constant edginess or irritability," says the National Center for PTSD. They are easily provoked and unintentionally seek out situations that cause them to be on high alert.

To make matters worse, constant irritability can lead us to react aggressively or angrily to minor inconveniences. So, how do we control our irritation?


Meet your basic needs first. Make sure you eat properly and drink enough water. Always get your sleep in and reduce stimulates like coffees or teas.

Finally, keep track of your triggers and incorporate exercise, yoga, or other relaxing activities into your routine.

3. Need for control

If you've experienced trauma you likely need control. The CPTSD Foundation writes, “Feeling powerless during abuse or trauma likely made you never want to feel that way again.”

People who've been through trauma often try to control their surroundings to avoid experiencing trauma again. But this isn't how you heal.

If you struggle with control issues, it's important to seek professional help to address them. Talk to a therapist or at the very least a loved one. Journal your thoughts and engage in creative outlets like painting or photography.


RELATED: I Love Being Alone — But It’s A Trauma Response

4. Emotional numbing

One of the most confusing symptoms of trauma is feeling emotionally numb. Those who've experienced trauma might find themselves not reacting to their trauma at all.

On the outside, this appears to be the case. However, as PTSD UK points out, “It is a way for individuals to shield themselves from the full force of their reaction.”

When we numb our emotions and prevent our hearts and minds from healing, we're doing ourselves a disservice.

In the long run, emotional numbness, while offering temporary relief, can lead to distancing yourself from others or struggling to form connections, writes PTSD UK.


So, have an outlet like exercising to help to channel your emotions. Lean on your support system and minimize any stress in your life as you heal from your emotional trauma.

It's important to recognize when we've experienced trauma so we can start healing. And mislabeling trauma as co-dependency is dangerous as it may cause us to downplay our experiences.



So, open up and get the help you need to heal from your experiences.


RELATED: 5 Red-Flag Signs That Indicate Hidden Trauma Is Destroying A Relationship

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.