Trauma is not physically held in the muscles or bones — instead, the need to protect oneself from perceived threats is stored in the memory and emotional centers of the brain, such as the hippocampus and amygdala.
And trauma isn't just “in your head”. Trauma leaves a lasting imprint on your body. It disrupts your memory storage processes and changes the way your brain works. Trauma left untreated can have a big impact on your future health.
You may deal with somatic symptoms such as pain or digestive distress or feel a steady stream of anxiety. This is because trauma is stored in the body in your nervous system as an overactive stress response.
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.
For some people, the tremors are big movements in the muscles. For others, they are tiny contractions that feel like electrical frequencies moving through the body. TRE® is not painful—in fact, most people enjoy the sensations.
Two key areas of the brain are activated by shame: the prefrontal cortex and the posterior insula. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain associated with moral reasoning. This is where judgements about the self occur. The posterior insula is the part of the brain that engages visceral sensations in the body.
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.
Intense Fear or Hypervigilance:
Sometimes people experience unexplained fears. This can include people or places. This often results in hypervigilance and a constant feeling of being on guard. Both fear and hypervigilance are clear indicators of unprocessed trauma.
Emotion Trauma and The Prefrontal Cortex
Normally, the amygdala will sense a negative emotion, such as fear, and the prefrontal cortex will rationally react to this emotion. After trauma though, this rationality might be overridden and your prefrontal cortex will have a hard time regulating fear and other emotions.
Unresolved trauma puts people at increased risk for mental health diagnoses, which run the gamut of anxiety, depression and PTSD. There are physical manifestations as well, such as cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, stroke or heart attacks.
To sum up, since hip muscles are where emotions are trapped caused by events that switch your fight or flight mode, working on deep tissues in hip-focused postures like pigeon pose can release both physical and emotional stress.
Anger and suppressed rage are often stored in the buttocks.
But when we're placed in very stressful situations, like during traumatic experiences, some brain changes can result in lasting physical and mental health challenges. That said, positive change is possible. The neuroplasticity that enables brains to change in response to trauma also allows them to heal.
It may feel like you're on edge. You may start to sweat. Your heart may race, your fists may clench. Trauma isn't only a person's emotional and psychological reaction to an intense or overwhelming event, it can lead to physical manifestations that are felt in the body too.
Most clients find tremendous relief as they work with a massage therapist for trauma release. The long-stored tension and tightness are finally no longer in residence in their bodies. Massage therapy for trauma release is rarely a one-and-done treatment option.
The symptoms of unresolved trauma may include, among many others, addictive behaviors, an inability to deal with conflict, anxiety, confusion, depression or an innate belief that we have no value.
Smiling is a way to “protect” therapists.
By downplaying their pain they are attempting to minimize the upset they believe they are causing. Laughing while recounting something painful says, “I'm OK, you don't have to take care of me. ' Instead, clients are actually attempting to take care of their therapists.
Working out is a physical and mental stress reliever, so it can dramatically reduce your tension and anxiety after trauma. If exercise isn't something you regularly engage in, you could still increase your movement by taking walks, practicing yoga, or trying other gentle forms of activity.
van der Kolk writes that there are three avenues for recovery: “top down, by talking, (re-) connecting with others, and allowing ourselves to know and understand what is going on with us”; “taking medicines that shut down inappropriate alarm reactions"; and “bottom up, by allowing the body to have experiences that ...
In a social-evaluative situation, strength of cortisol stress responses will be predicted by shame expression responses, and to a lesser extent, by self-reported trait and state shame responses. Individuals with low body esteem will report and show stronger shame stress responses.