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  • Alainnah Knight

How Does Trauma Manifest In The Body?

Trauma is not just an emotional and psychological experience, trauma is also physically experienced in the body. The body's survival response affects many parts of the body, including our heart, blood vessels, immune system, and digestive tract. Your body does it's best to help you survive no matter the circumstance, but our system is not meant to be in survival mode permanently. When trauma has not been fully processed, our bodies begin to manifest the unprocessed trauma through various ways in the body. Let's talk about how trauma can manifest in the body.


7 Ways Trauma Can Manifest In The Body


Breathing Difficulties (Or Irregular Breathing)

Trauma can affect breathing patterns, leading to shallow or rapid breathing. This can contribute to symptoms such as shortness of breath, hyperventilation, or exacerbation of respiratory conditions like asthma. This may also cause chest pain, tingling in the fingertips, and mouth.


Sleep Disturbances

Trauma can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or frequently waking during the night. This is often caused by adrenaline-induced alertness or "being on edge." This lack of restorative sleep can further exacerbate physical symptoms and impair overall functioning.


Digestive Issues

Stress from trauma can disrupt digestion, leading to symptoms such as stomachaches, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Chronic stress can also contribute to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Gastro-Oesphageal Reflux Disease, and Peptic Ulcers.


Changes in Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Trauma triggers the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause the heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Prolonged exposure to stress can contribute to cardiovascular problems over time.


Muscle Tension and Chronic Pain

Trauma can cause the muscles to tense up as part of the body's natural response to stress. This tension can lead to chronic pain, especially in areas such as the neck, shoulders, and back.


Immune System Suppression

Chronic stress from trauma can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections and illnesses. It can also exacerbate existing autoimmune conditions


Headaches and Migraines

Stress and tension resulting from trauma can trigger headaches or migraines. These headaches may be recurrent and difficult to manage.


Lastly,

These physical manifestations of trauma highlight the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and soul. Addressing trauma often requires a holistic approach that incorporates psychological and physical interventions to promote long-term healing and well-being.


Disclaimer

While having an understanding of the physical manifestations of trauma is crucial for recognizing its impact on overall health, it's also essential to emphasize that the information provided here should not be construed as medical advice or a diagnosis. This post serves as a general informational resource regarding the physical manifestations of trauma. Trauma is a complex issue that can affect individuals differently, and seeking professional guidance from a qualified healthcare provider is incredibly important. Consulting with a doctor or mental health professional can provide personalized assessment, diagnosis, and treatment options tailored to individual needs. They can offer invaluable support, resources, and interventions to address both the physical and psychological aspects of trauma. It's important to prioritize one's well-being and to reach out for professional help when needed, as every person's journey toward healing is unique.



References

Bremner J. D. (2006). Traumatic stress: effects on the brain. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 8(4), 445–461. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2006.8.4/jbremner


Brindle, R. C., Cribbet, M. R., Samuelsson, L. B., Gao, C., Frank, E., Krafty, R. T., Thayer, J. F., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2018). The Relationship Between Childhood Trauma and Poor Sleep Health in Adulthood. Psychosomatic medicine, 80(2), 200–207. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000542


C. Spitzer, B. Koch, H.J. Grabe, R. Ewert, S. Barnow, S.B. Felix, T. Ittermann, A. Obst, H. Völzke, S. Gläser, C. Schäper

European Respiratory Journal May 2011, 37 (5) 1068-1075; DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00028010


Gentsch, A., & Kuehn, E. (2022). Clinical Manifestations of Body Memories: The Impact of Past Bodily Experiences on Mental Health. Brain sciences, 12(5), 594. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci12050594




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