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  • Writer's pictureElliot Huemann

Trauma's impact on the body

Updated: Feb 10

Trauma, its everywhere these days. Suprisingly, even though its a word many of see daily on Instragram or hear about on TikTok, few of us can actually explain what its.

I like to define trauma in the following way,

"Trauma a pattern in our mind/body that gets setup when we have an experience too overwhelming to process in the normal way."

Trauma can occur as a result of a single incident or a series of events that are overwhelming, and it can be caused by many different factors such as abuse, neglect, accidents, or natural disasters. When a person experiences trauma, their body responds in ways that are designed to help them survive the situation, but these responses can have long-term effects that impact the body and mind, often "getting in the way" of future wellbeing.

One of the most common ways that trauma impacts the body is through the activation of the "fight or flight" response. This response is a natural reaction to danger that prepares the body to either fight the threat or flee from it. During this response, the body releases a surge of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. This response is essential for survival in dangerous situations, but when it is activated repeatedly or for extended periods of time, it can have harmful effects on the body, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.

Another way that trauma impacts the body is through the activation of the nervous system. Traumatic events can cause the nervous system to become hyper-aroused, which means that it is on high alert even when there is no immediate threat present. This can cause symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and irritability, and it can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and digestive problems.

Trauma can also impact the body's immune system. Studies have shown that individuals who have experienced trauma have a higher risk of developing autoimmune disorders, allergies, and other immune-related conditions. This may be due to the fact that trauma can cause chronic inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the development of these conditions.

In addition to these physical effects, trauma can also have a significant impact on a person's mental health. Trauma can lead to the development of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, and it can also contribute to substance abuse and addiction.

Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help individuals recover from the effects of trauma. Therapy, medication, and other forms of support can help individuals process their experiences and develop coping mechanisms to manage the physical and emotional symptoms of trauma. Mind-body practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can also be helpful in reducing the impact of trauma on the body.

Trauma is a complex experience that can have significant impacts on both the mind and body. It is important for individuals who have experienced trauma to seek out support and treatment to help them manage the physical and emotional effects of their experiences.

By understanding the ways in which trauma impacts the body, in therapy we can work towards developing more effective treatments and interventions. This way we will not just normalize the effects of trauma, but actually heal them.

*This post was written in collaboration with generative AI.

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