What Does Trauma Do to the Body?

Trauma can have a significant impact on the body, both physically and emotionally. In this blog post, we’ll explore what trauma does to the body and how it can affect someone’s health.

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The Fight or Flight Response

The first thing to understand is that trauma is not one size fits all. What one person finds traumatizing may not be as distressing to another. However, there are some common physiological reactions that occur when someone experiences a traumatic event. When faced with a threat, the body’s natural reaction is to enter into the “fight or flight” mode. This is also known as the sympathetic nervous system’s response.

The sympathetic nervous system

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response. This is the body’s natural reaction to stress or danger. When the body is under stress, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in and release hormones that help the body to deal with the perceived threat. These hormones include adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. It also gives the body a burst of energy so that it can deal with the threat. Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels and metabolism. It also helps to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.

The fight or flight response is a survival mechanism that has evolved over time. In times of danger, it can help us to escape from dangerous situations or to fight back against an attacker. However, in today’s world, we are often exposed to chronic stressors that can trigger this response even when there is no real danger present. This can lead to health problems over time because of the constant release of stress hormones.


Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone.” Cortisol helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels, and it also has an anti-inflammatory effect. When a person experiences trauma, their body goes into “fight or flight” mode. This means that the body releases significantly more cortisol into the bloodstream.

High levels of cortisol can have a number of negative effects on the body, including:

-Interference with learning and memory
-Suppression of the immune system
-Increased blood pressure
-Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
-A negative impact on fertility

The Impact of Trauma on the Body

Trauma can have a significant impact on the mind and body. It can cause physical symptoms, such as headaches, chest pain, and gastrointestinal problems. It can also lead to mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is a condition that occurs when a person perceives that they are constantly under threat. This can cause the body to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. The stress response is designed to be a short-term survival mechanism, but when it is constantly triggered, it can have a number of negative effects on the body.

One of the most common effects of chronic stress is headaches. The stress hormone cortisol constricts blood vessels and this can lead to tension headaches. Chronic stress can also trigger migraines in people who are susceptible.

Other physical effects of chronic stress include:
– Muscular aches and pains
– Digestive problems
– Sleep disturbance
– Exhaustion
– Weight gain or loss

Chronic stress can also have a significant impact on mental health. It is a common trigger for anxiety and depression. It can also cause difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and irritability. In extreme cases, it can lead to psychosis.

Autoimmune diseases

Autoimmune diseases are a type of chronic illness that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. Many people with autoimmune diseases experience periods of remission (when symptoms subside) and flares (when symptoms return or worsen).

There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and Grave’s disease. Women are three times more likely than men to develop an autoimmune disease, and certain ethnic groups — including African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans and Asians — have a higher prevalence of some types of autoimmune diseases.

Autoimmune diseases can affect any part of the body. Common symptoms include fatigue, pain, joint swelling and stiffness, skin rashes, digestive problems and difficulty breathing. Some autoimmune diseases are life-threatening; others can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. There is no cure for most autoimmune diseases, but treatments may help control symptoms and prevent tissue damage.

Digestive problems

One of the most common long-term effects of trauma is gastrointestinal problems. Digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and nausea are all common among survivors of trauma.

There are a few reasons why gastrointestinal problems are so common among trauma survivors. First, the stress of trauma can lead to changes in gut motility, which is the movement of food through the digestive system. When gut motility is impaired, food doesn’t move through the digestive system as it should and this can lead to a host of gastrointestinal problems.

In addition, chronic stress can lead to changes in gut bacteria. These changes in gut bacteria have been linked to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gastrointestinal disorders. Trauma survivors are also more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has been linked to IBS.

If you’re experiencing gastrointestinal problems that are severe or that don’t go away with over-the-counter medications, it’s important to see a doctor. These problems could be a sign of a more serious condition like IBD or IBS.

Heart disease

Trauma can have a lasting impact on your physical health, including your risk for developing heart disease.

Studies have shown that people who have experienced traumatic events are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who have not. One study found that people who had experienced four or more major traumatic events were nearly four times more likely to develop heart disease than those who had not experienced any trauma.

There are several ways that trauma can contribute to the development of heart disease. Traumatic events can lead to long-term stress, which can raise blood pressure and damage the arteries. Trauma can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or drinking, which can further damage the heart.

If you have experienced trauma, it is important get help from a mental health professional and take steps to protect your heart health.

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are common among people who have experienced trauma. The National Sleep Foundation report that up to 80% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also have problems with sleep.

Trauma can cause a range of sleep disorders, including insomnia, night terrors, and nightmares. These can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep, which can in turn make it harder to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic event.

Some research has found that sleep disorders can even be a risk factor for developing PTSD in the first place. One study found that people who had difficulty sleeping after a traumatic event were more likely to develop PTSD than those who slept well.

Sleep disorders can also make existing PTSD symptoms worse. For example, people with PTSD who also have insomnia are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression than those without insomnia.

If you’re struggling to sleep after a traumatic event, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you identify any underlying sleep disorders and develop a treatment plan to help you get the rest you need.

Reproductive issues

Reproductive issues are common after exposure to traumatic events. Research indicates that trauma can cause changes in hormone function, which can lead to problems with fertility, menstruation, and sexual functioning.

Exposure to trauma has also been linked to an increased risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor and low birth weight. Women who have experienced trauma are also more likely to have difficulty bonding with their infants.

How to Heal from Trauma

Experiencing trauma can be incredibly overwhelming and can have a significant impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s important to understand how to heal from trauma so that you can recover and moving forward. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways that trauma affects the body and how to start the healing process.


Psychotherapy is often the first line of treatment recommended for someone who is struggling to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic experience. Also known as talk therapy, this type of counseling gives you an opportunity to process your experience and make sense of what happened in a safe and supportive environment.

Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for trauma because it can help you:

-Understand your reactions to the event
-Work through your feelings of guilt, shame, or self-blame
-Address any negative beliefs you have about yourself or the world as a result of the trauma
-Learn healthy coping strategies for managing flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and strong emotions
-Develop a support system
-Build new sources of meaning and purpose in your life


Meditation has been shown to be an effective way to help heal from trauma. It can help to calm the nervous system, and to ease the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of trauma. It helps to release endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. It also helps to reduce stress hormones and increase feelings of well-being. Exercise can also help to improve sleep, which is often disturbed following a traumatic event.


Good nutrition is key to helping the body heal from trauma. When we are traumatized, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which means that all of our energy goes into surviving the threat. This can leave us feeling exhausted, both physically and emotionally.

Eating a healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein, can help to replenish our energy stores and give our bodies the nutrients it needs to heal. Drinking plenty of water is also important, as it helps to flush out toxins that can build up during times of stress.

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