Trauma and Body Changes: How Your Body Is Different After Experiencing Trauma

A lot of people don’t associate trauma and body changes.

Many people think of trauma as the experience of an isolated and major event such as being in a combat zone, sexual assault, or a natural disaster. However, it does have to be that way when it comes to trauma and body changes. Traumatic events are far more pervasive in society and can be subtle.

Sometimes the trauma a person experiences because of someone’s behavior is not inflicted intentionally, yet it is inflicted continuously.

Everyone experiences trauma differently. However, the statistics speak for themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 90% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives. In addition, it is estimated that at any given time, throughout the U.S. eight million people have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And roughly 7-8% of all adults, that’s 1 in 13 people in the U.S., will develop PTSD during their lifetime.

Mental And Physical Symptoms Arising From Traumatic Experiences

A common physical symptom that correlates trauma and body changes – one that typically arises from traumatic experiences – is hyperarousal (also called hypervigilance). Hyperarousal is the body’s way of remaining prepared. It is characterized by sleep disturbances, muscle tension, and a lower threshold for startle responses and can persist years after trauma occurs. Another closely related symptom is physiological arousal. This refers to physiologic reactions, such as escalations in blood pressure and rate of respiration and lessened activity of the gastrointestinal system.

There are also cognitive, or mental effects, of both hyperarousal and physiological arousal. An example of the effects of physiological arousal on cognition would be if you were walking through the woods and saw a rattlesnake in your path. Typically, your body would immediately reflect sensations of alarm and fear (physiological arousal). one would immediately feel alarmed and scared (physiological arousal.  Fear works when one senses danger. The brain reacts instantly, sending signals that activate the nervous system. This causes physical responses, such as a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing, and an increase in blood pressure. Blood pumps to muscle groups to prepare the body for physical action like running or fighting. Skin sweats to keep the body cool. Some people might notice sensations in the stomach, head, chest, legs, or hands.

Traumatic Experiences Can Lead To Long-Term Adverse Physical Effects

If left untreated, the long-term effects of traumatic experiences can take a toll on your physical health and all areas of life. Exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, and dissociation are just some of the ways trauma can be expressed. The more worried and stressed one becomes after experiencing a traumatic event often results in exhaustion as the muscles tense and become more and more constricted over time. Many people who have experienced trauma have trouble with relationships, work life, and friendships. Long-term confusion, anxiety and agitation can also lead to adverse physical conditions.

Trauma Is A Mental Health Condition, Not A Mental Illness

While the results of trauma lead to mental and physical health conditions, if left untreated trauma could potentially lead to more serious consequences. The indirect effects of trauma on the body can be subtle yet dangerous. Often, trauma’s physical and emotional pain can make it hard to cope, leading to unhealthy tendencies like smoking, drinking or drug use.  Unfortunately, these strategies only numb the emotions and prolong the trauma’s impact on the body and mind. The most effective way to deal with trauma is to learn how to deal with the underlying emotions through trauma therapy.

Our Approach To Treating Trauma Involves Wholistic Mind Body Modalities

There is no right or wrong way to think, feel, or respond to trauma. Everyone reacts differently. The most important thing to do if you have experienced trauma is to address it. At Serenity and Wellness Counseling, we approach all treatments in a wholistic way. We treat the body and the mind with a variety of non-invasive research-based modalities. It’s impossible to resolve trauma with healing modalities that do not involve the whole person, the body, and the mind.

Neurofeedback Therapy works on both hyperarousal and physiological arousal symptoms.

This noninvasive biofeedback technique measures brainwaves and provides real-time feedback about how the brain is functioning  The aim of this procedure is to help our patients gain voluntary control over certain body functions that are typically involuntary (such as heart rate, muscle contraction or brainwaves). Biofeedback uses electronic instruments to convey to the patient certain physiological processes happening in their body that they are typically not aware of and helps patients learn self-control of brain functions by indicating how their brains react to certain triggers. Over time, patients learn to recognize when their brain is in a certain state. Then, they can learn to recreate the desired state, such as relaxation, or avoid undesired states, such as agitation, in their daily lives.

Another approach we use to treat a variety of conditions including trauma, is called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

This approach looks at past traumatic events that created the triggers and stressors you experience today. Through visual and auditory cues like tapping and side-to-side eye motions, EMDR therapy can help you become more in-tune with the bodily sensations that contribute to your stressors. After all, the body is the storehouse of past trauma. Becoming more connected with it can help you work through past pain while staying grounded in the present.

Additionally, we draw from an approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

While EMDR works closely with the body, CBT is more focused on the mind. The goal of CBT is to identify the negative cognitions at the root of your anxiety (e.g., “I’m not good enough” or “I’ll never succeed in life”) and restructure your thoughts. Doing so can help you improve your mood and feel more confident in social situations.

Release Your Trauma And Return To Living Fully

Our therapists are trained in skills and strategies designed to help our patients overcome the effects of traumatic events without re-traumatizing them. If you or a loved one has experience trauma, remember, this is a condition that can be corrected. Everyone personally experiences the results of trauma. Yet, it is possible to identify and change the way you react to stressors. II would be honored to help you journey back to health, wholeness and empowerment. Please reach out to me by calling 281-944-SWCC for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I look forward to working with you.

The post Trauma and Body Changes: How Your Body Is Different After Experiencing Trauma appeared first on Serenity Wellness & Counseling Cypress, TX.

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