Traumatic stressors such as early trauma can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects about 8% of Americans at some time In their lives,1 as well as depression,2,3 substance abuse,1,4 dissociation,5 personality disorders,6,7 and health problems.
And the answer is yes. The brain is incredibly resilient and possesses the ability to repair itself through the process of neuroplasticity. This phenomenon is the reason why many brain injury survivors can make astounding recoveries.
EMDR therapy changes the way a traumatic memory is stored in your brain using eye movements or rhythmic tapping. This allows you to process the trauma so that you can remember the event without reliving it. EMDR is considered a medical procedure because of the way it changes the structure of the brain.
In the most extreme situations, you might have lapses of memory or “lost time.” Schauer & Elbert (2010) refer to the stages of trauma responses as the 6 “F”s: Freeze, Flight, Fight, Fright, Flag, and Faint.
Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.
If you have a child, you've experienced this moment–the meltdown.
The energy of the trauma is stored in our bodies' tissues (primarily muscles and fascia) until it can be released. This stored trauma typically leads to pain and progressively erodes a body's health. Emotions are the vehicles the body relies on to find balance after a trauma.
Emotional trauma can last from a few days to a few months.
Some people will recover from emotional trauma after days or weeks, while others may experience more long-term effects.
The normal healing and recovery process involves the body coming down out of heightened arousal. The internal alarms can turn off, the high levels of energy subside, and the body can re-set itself to a normal state of balance and equilibrium. Typically, this should occur within approximately one month of the event.
Studies suggest that trauma could make you more vulnerable to developing physical health problems, including long-term or chronic illnesses. This might be because trauma can affect your body as well as your mind, which can have a long-term impact on your physical health.
Some studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish may be beneficial after brain injury. This is based on research suggesting it helps to maintain cognitive function as people age.
When a person experiences a traumatic event, adrenaline rushes through the body and the memory is imprinted into the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system. The amygdala holds the emotional significance of the event, including the intensity and impulse of emotion.
According to recent studies, Emotional Trauma and PTSD do cause both brain and physical damage. Neuropathologists have seen overlapping effects of physical and emotional trauma upon the brain.
Dissociative amnesia occurs when a person blocks out certain events, often associated with stress or trauma, leaving the person unable to remember important personal information.
Awareness is the first step to addressing trauma blocking—examining the ways trauma blocking negatively impacts your life. Keeping a log to help notice what is happening before engaging in blocking activities is a helpful way to begin the path towards awareness and changed behavior.
If you often feel as though your life has become unmanageable, this could be a sign that you have some unresolved emotional trauma. Emotional overreactions are a common symptom of trauma. A victim of trauma might redirect their overwhelming emotions towards others, such as family and friends.
Trauma can change the way we think, feel, and act for a long time after the initial event. For many people, this could mean flashbacks or nightmares, a constant feeling of being on edge, loneliness, anger, intrusive thoughts and memories, self-destructive actions, and more.
Ever since people's responses to overwhelming experiences have been systematically explored, researchers have noted that a trauma is stored in somatic memory and expressed as changes in the biological stress response.
Treatment for trauma
By concentrating on what's happening in your body, you can release pent-up trauma-related energy through shaking, crying, and other forms of physical release.
These 4 Cs are: Calm, Contain, Care, and Cope 2 Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care Page 10 34 (Table 2.3). These 4Cs emphasize key concepts in trauma-informed care and can serve as touchstones to guide immediate and sustained behavior change.
Initial reactions to trauma can include exhaustion, confusion, sadness, anxiety, agitation, numbness, dissociation, confusion, physical arousal, and blunted affect. Most responses are normal in that they affect most survivors and are socially acceptable, psychologically effective, and self-limited.