Stress, Wellness

How Trauma Affects the Brain

After any traumatic event, your body and brain change. To fully understand how and why this occurs, it’s key to understand what a traumatic event entails. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines trauma as, “an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster”. The APA goes on to describe some effects of trauma 

Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives

As life continues after a traumatic event, your body’s makeup is permanently changed. ​​Memories are encoded into cells and neural pathways. These neurological imprints have the potential to rear up and activate after the fact, which can lead to shorter periods of mood swings or disruptive dreams or the development of long-term symptoms that can obstruct daily life. Understanding and addressing how your body has changed after a traumatic event can give you the perspective to address these changes and move forward. 

However, trauma exists in more ways than physical trauma. Emotional trauma can occur after events of grief, abuse, and relationship issues like divorce, a breakup, or infidelity. Like physical trauma, emotional trauma has a string of brain changes that can occur after, such as brain fog, anxiety, depression, or PTSD.

When it comes to trauma, one of the most difficult things to do is recognize the change in your life and ask for help. It can be anxiety-inducing just thinking of asking for help or the idea of opening up to another person, but trauma imprints itself on your brain and body at a cellular level. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s like managing another sickness or illness, the longer it’s unaddressed the worse the effects will become. 

Properly managing stress and other symptoms can lead to improved health, mannerisms, and productivity. It’s important to understand how these lifestyle changes affect you and then learning how to address them. Great ways of alleviating stress and anxiety are through hobbies and meditation. 80% of all diseases are lifestyle-related, so whatever you can do to lead a healthy life greatly improves your long-term health.

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