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Career Trauma: What It Is And How To Heal

Though everyone hopes to work for a company with great values and supports its employees, this does not always happen. Unfortunately, many people become stuck in jobs that induce trauma through toxic work environments or traumatic events.

A trauma that involves work or happens in the work environment is called career trauma. This trauma is becoming very common in the working class but is rarely discussed. As seen with the #MeToo movement, toxic and hostile workplaces are all too common. However, many don’t discuss this topic because they are pressured to remain quiet and tough it out. 

However, career trauma is an important issue and affects the lives of millions of people. This article will teach you all you need to know about career trauma:

  • What causes it.
  • How to know if you are living with it.
  • How to find treatment and heal. 

What Are Common Causes of Career Trauma?

Career trauma can develop after any event or situation that occurs at work and is severely harmful to one’s mental health. Coworkers, superiors, working environments, and particular events can all contribute to career trauma. Let’s take a closer look at the behaviors, environmental factors, and events that can give someone career trauma. 

Hostile Coworkers and Toxic Work Environments

Hostility, abuse, and harassment are getting more pushback than ever. A protective order can help to protect you against the perpetrator, but knowing that they’ll have a skilled protective order defense attorney in place can still be stressful. These create toxic work environments that can destroy an employee’s willpower, mental health, and spirit. 

Employees and superiors use hostility either as a misguided way to increase productivity or as a way to assert power and dominance. However, these behaviors rarely work and only create an environment full of fear and hostility. 

Hostile and traumatic behaviors can come in many forms. Behaviors that contribute to a toxic work environment and career trauma include:

  • Harassment due to racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, or transphobia
  • Workplace violence
  • Bullying
  • Backstabbing
  • Gossiping
  • Competition

The elements listed above not only create a hostile workplace but are also considered abuse. Though there is much discussion about family abuse and abuse by partners and loved ones, abuse in the workplace often gets overlooked. This is due to a common societal misconception that one will always have to deal with frustrating coworkers or terrible bosses, so they should just suck it up and keep working. However, not discussing the issue only allows it to grow and causes more serious psychological damage. 

Traumatic Events

An employee doesn’t need to be exposed to consistent harassment or toxicity to develop career trauma. Singular events or short periods of stress can also be traumatic. Some common events that contribute to career trauma include:

  • Being laid off or unexpectedly fired
  • Getting passed up for a promotion
  • Being demoted
  • Being overworked or juggling too many responsibilities

What Are Common Symptoms of Career Trauma?

Chances are that you have experienced either hostility or a traumatic event at work. But how do you know if you are living with career trauma? 

For starters, you aren’t going to be cheerful or enjoy your job if it’s causing you trauma. Your job will take over your life, constantly eating away at your emotions and mental health. You will most likely use what little free time you have numbing your mind with television or social media rather than partaking in a more therapeutic hobby. 

Other common symptoms of career trauma include: 

  • Feeling numb
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble concentrating
  • No work/life balance
  • Feeling constant pressure to overwork
  • Digestive issues
  • Development of mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Increased feelings of anger or aggression

How to Treat and Heal From Career Trauma

The best way to get help for your career trauma is to talk to a therapist about the problem. They will be able to help you find coping strategies and other treatments to deal with some of the symptoms or side effects of your trauma. 

However, you should also leave the career that is causing you trauma if you haven’t already. No matter the pay, perks, or connections this job gives you, nothing is worth permanently harming your mental health. 

If there is a way to fix the traumatic elements, such as discussing with your superior or human resources, then do so. Otherwise, it may be time for you to move on to another career. 

Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.