How Trauma Affects the Body

Most of us will experience trauma at some point. Many cases do have a wider historical context, perhaps being abused as a child. But traumatic events can occur on any day, at any time. It may be a car accident or a sudden loss of a loved one. There I no criteria for experiencing trauma.

Symptoms of Psychological Trauma

We all react to trauma in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no right or wrong way to think, feel or respond, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people.

Emotional & Psychological Symptoms
– Shock, denial, or disbelief
– Confusion, difficulty concentrating
– Anger, irritability, and mood swings
– Anxiety and fear
– Guilt, shame, and self-blame
– Withdrawing from others
– Feeling disconnected or numb

Physical Symptoms
– Insomnia or nightmares
– Fatigue
– Being startled easily
– Difficulty concentrating
– Racing heartbeat
– Edginess and agitation
– Aches and pains
– Muscle tension

Why It Might Happen

Scientists have explored lots of angles to explain how trauma affects the body, some have looked at whether the flood of stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine is to blame. The theory is that our nervous system has evolved so that we can feel things like intimacy and safety around others, but if we detect danger, the other, primitive parts of our nervous systems kick in, like the sympathetic nervous system, which controls our “fight or flight” response. These systems also control things like digestion and heart rate. So once they spring into action, your body works differently. This could explain why trauma is linked to everything from constipation to fainting. Trauma is associated with long-term physical health problems too. Trauma survivors are about three times more likely to deal with irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain, and chronic pain syndrome. But just because you go through trauma doesn’t mean you’ll have health problems. Other factors are at play, like your life experiences, the support you have from loves ones, and your genes.

When to Seek Professional Therapy for Trauma

Recovering from trauma takes time, and everyone heals at their own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting u, you may need professional help from a trauma expert.

Seek help if you are
– Having trouble functioning at work or home
– Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression
– Unable to form close, satisfying relationships
– Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares or flashbacks
– Avoiding more and more anything that reminds you of the trauma
– Emotionally numb and disconnected from others
– Using alcohol or drugs to feel better

Working through trauma can be scary, painful, and potentially re-traumatizing, so this healing work is best undertaken with the help of experienced trauma specialists like Laurian Ward.

Helping a Loved One Deal with Trauma

When a loved one has suffered trauma, your support can play a crucial role in their recovery.

Be patient and understanding. Healing from trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different. Don’t judge your loved one’s reaction against your own response or anyone else’s

Offer practical support to help your loved one get back into a normal routine. That may mean helping with collecting groceries or doing housework, or simply being available to talk or listen.

Don’t pressure your loved one into talking but be available if they want to talk. Some trauma survivors find it difficult to talk about what happened. Don’t force your loved one to open up but let them know you are there to listen if they want to talk.

Help your loved one to socialize and relax. Encourage them to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies and other activities that bring them pleasure.

Don’t take the trauma symptoms personally. Your loved one may become angry, irritable, withdrawn, or emotionally distant. Remember that this is a result of the trauma and may not have anything to do with you and your relationship