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Everything You Need to Know About Trauma Dumping
Mental Health

Everything You Need to Know About Trauma Dumping

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on January 3, 2023
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8 min

Trauma dumping refers to oversharing difficult emotions at inappropriate times in a way that may affect other people’s mental well-being. In this article, we explore the concept of trauma dumping, how to know if you are doing it, and how to respond to it if someone is dumping their emotions on you. Take a look now.

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With the rising popularity of mental health awareness, you’ve probably heard the phrase “trauma dumping.” Trauma dumping refers to the oversharing of traumatic experiences and other difficult emotions in an inappropriate place.

If you’re wondering whether you have experienced trauma dumps, or if you are, in fact, a trauma dumper yourself, we’re going to take a closer look at the concept of trauma dumping in this article so that you can get to know the habit a bit better and make any necessary changes. Take a look to find out more.

Trauma Dumping – What Is It?

While venting is an expected part of life, trauma dumping is when venting becomes toxic. It refers to dumping traumatic experiences, difficult emotions, and other stressful situations on people at inappropriate times or in inappropriate places.

There is some confusion between venting and a trauma dump, but the two are different things. While venting is done to reduce stress and is usually a mutual activity where two people vent to each other, a trauma dump usually involves a party that has not consented to take on the trauma you are dumping and may be preoccupied with aspects of their own lives that makes the dumping a traumatic experience for them.

Trauma dumping may be related to a mental health condition, like anxiety or depression, or could be a result of childhood trauma. However, it is best to speak with a mental health professional rather than dumping all of your trauma onto someone else who is not qualified to deal with it.

Is oversharing a coping mechanism?

Oversharing could indeed be a coping mechanism. It could be a response to trauma in your life and act as a way of helping you cope. It is very easy to overshare these days, and social media trauma dumping is incredibly common as it gives people a platform to trauma dump onto. However, if you find that you are trauma dumping, it might be time to speak with a professional and work with them to get through what is causing it.

Trauma Dumping vs. Venting

Trauma dumping sounds a lot like venting, but the two are very different. Venting allows one or both parties to open up about issues in their life that have been bothering them. It may be that you have a shared issue, like a work problem, or that you are simply listening to a friend vent. The difference between venting and trauma dumping, though, is that venting does not cross personal boundaries.

With venting, there is a mutual understanding of one party listening to the other and offering advice where possible. Trauma dumping involves dumping lots of traumatic and potentially traumatizing information onto another person without their consent. Below, we’ve summarized a few of the critical differences to make it a bit clearer.

  • While venting involves a back-and-forth, trauma dumping usually involves talking at someone.
  • Venting involves two active and consenting parties, while trauma dumping usually involves one active party and one person who did not consent to be talked to.
  • Venting usually happens over time, with both parties coming to one another for emotional support when it is necessary. This allows the traumatic feelings to be spread out if there are any. Trauma dumping, on the other hand, usually happens all in one go and can lead to secondary trauma for the unconsenting party.
  • Venting will involve both parties watching out for social cues to ensure they’re not overstepping boundaries and harming the other person’s feelings. What makes trauma dumping toxic is that the dumping party does not watch out for these social cues, which could cause trauma for the other person.

Can Trauma Dumping Affect Relationships?

Yes, dumping your unprocessed trauma onto another person continuously can cause difficulties in relationships. Constantly treating time spent with a person as trauma therapy can make the other person feel used, as though they are only there for you to talk to. It suggests you have little regard for their feelings, too.

In addition, continuously turning to the same person to process a traumatic event may actually negatively affect their mental health. Without realizing it, you may be forcing them to relive past trauma and could be making them feel worse.

It is important that you respect the boundaries of all of your relationships since there is no way of knowing another person’s trauma and whether you are making them feel worse by constantly dumping onto them.

Signs That You Are a Trauma Dumper

Are you worried that you may be dumping your trauma? Unsure whether you’re hurting people without even realizing it? Below, we’ve created a list of signs that you are a trauma dumper.

  • You find that you constantly talk about yourself and don’t know if your friend has the same feelings.
  • You’re repeating the same issue over and over again to the same person.
  • You do the most speaking and rarely hear the other person share their thoughts and feelings.
  • You rely wholeheartedly on another person for your emotional well-being.
  • Your friend seems to be overwhelmed or stressed when you begin talking.
  • You find people push you away once you begin opening up to them.
  • You don’t know how to deal with the way you feel.
  • You overshare, on social media or otherwise, and then regret doing so, feeling embarrassed about the things you have shared.
  • It makes you angry if someone sets healthy boundaries with you as you are venting to them.

How to Stop Trauma Dumping

If you have found that you are trauma dumping and want to find a way to stop, we’ve created a list of a few tips to help you out. Take a look below to see how you can stop trauma dumping.

#1 Start journaling

Journaling is a fantastic way to get your feelings out and better regulate emotions. In fact, in studies, journaling has been found to decrease stress and anxiety, alleviate some of the symptoms of depression, and help to process stressful or traumatic events.

If you’re looking for a way to begin journaling, you could look at a mental health app like Sensa. This app is designed to support users with various mental health problems, generating an individualized 84-day plan for each user. It provides extensive space for users to journal their feelings in the Mood Journal section, helping you process stressful experiences without trauma dumping on your friends.

Sensa Health
Your calm mind assistant
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Our rating:
4.5
Start Free Quiz Now

It can also be used to develop ways of coping with negative mental well-being with the help of daily exercises to support a calmer mind and a Quick Relief section for moments of panic or overwhelming emotions. The app is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a proven and popular approach to better mental well-being that seeks to change the way we think to improve our mental health.

#2 Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware. It teaches you to be in the moment and can help with overwhelming feelings of panic and negative mental well-being, and may help you sort through emotions more easily and rely less on trauma dumping.

Mindfulness practice can include meditation, breathwork, and other grounding techniques that remind you to be in the moment and to calm the mind. The practice of mindfulness has long been used to support other forms of therapy, and much research has found it to have a beneficial impact on psychological well-being.

You could use grounding techniques or breathwork to calm your mind rather than turning to a friend and dumping all of your emotions on them. It could help you to better regulate these emotions and learn when it is appropriate to vent and when you need to respect someone’s boundaries.

#3 Consider therapy

As trauma dumping is often a sign of some underlying condition, like anxiety or depression, you may want to seek professional help to deal with your issues. Whether speaking one-on-one or joining a support group, a trained therapist or counselor can help you work through these emotions, regulate them better, and break that trauma bond.

The benefit of speaking with a professional is that they are trained to be on the receiving end of trauma and are able to help you work through the emotions. It is their job to support you, unlike the friends you may be dumping traumatic experiences onto.

How to Respond to Trauma Dumping

If you have been on the other side of trauma dumping and have found that a friend or relative keeps dumping their emotions on you, you may be looking for ways to cope with this trauma dumping. One of the best ways to deal with it is to simply set boundaries with the person sharing their trauma.

Below are a few ways you can set these boundaries and avoid the emotional damage of trauma dumping.

  • Set a time limit: Simply telling the person you only have 10 minutes to spare gives you an out. Once the 10 minutes are up, you have an excuse to remove yourself from the situation and avoid further emotional damage.
  • Tell them how you feel: If you think it will help, telling the person what they are doing and how it makes you feel is one of the best ways to avoid being trauma dumped on. It reminds the person that you, too, have feelings and may make them think a little more about how they are affecting you.
  • Redirect the conversation: Changing the direction of the conversation can help to preserve your mental well-being and may divert their trauma dumping.
  • Distance yourself from the person: If you have tried other ways to set boundaries with the person and they are not helping, it may be time to distance yourself from them. It can be painful, especially if they mean a lot to you, but avoiding them can help to preserve your own mental well-being.

A Word From a Psychologist

Trauma dumping refers to oversharing in an inappropriate situation. It can be a sign of other conditions, like anxiety or depression, but it is not the same as post-traumatic stress disorder and is also different from simply venting.

If you think you may be trauma dumping on your friends, it is best to seek out professional help. A trained counselor or therapist can help you work through these emotions in a healthy way and teach you to better regulate them. You may also want to try other techniques for boosting mental well-being, like getting out into nature for a daily walk, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and getting enough sleep.

If you are on the other side of the trauma dumping and are experiencing a friend constantly unloading on you, consider setting boundaries with them. While setting boundaries sometimes helps, some people don’t respect them, and in these cases, it is best to distance yourself from the dumper to preserve your own mental well-being.

Remember that psychological well-being is just as important as your physical health, so you should always take the necessary steps to preserve it as you would your physical well-being.

Conclusion

Trauma dumping is usually a sign that someone is looking for emotional support and regulation. They may be seeking it in the wrong places, and at the wrong times, so it is best to set boundaries. If you find you are dumping emotions on people, consider professional help, practicing mindfulness, or journaling using an app like Sensa.

Sensa Health
Your calm mind assistant
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Our rating:
4.5
Start Free Quiz Now
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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