How Does the Body Store Trauma? We Explain

Many people know that trauma can have long-lasting negative psychological effects, such as flashbacks, anxiety and feelings of helplessness. But trauma can cause long-lasting negative physical effects as well. These include symptoms such as stomach aches, migraines, muscle pains and disease.

How Does Trauma Affect the Body?

Man alone in forest

Image Credit: Jay Mantri

Many people believe that your body is a manifestation of the issues and conflicts you’ve faced throughout your life as well as how you’ve reacted to them. While you don’t consciously remember every sight, touch, smell or sound you have experienced since birth, all of these memories are stored in your body.

This means that a trauma that you don’t even remember could be affecting your body and how it functions. Some doctors, including the holistic Dr. Hamer, believe that disease is only brought upon by a shockingly traumatic event for which one wasn’t prepared.

While not all doctors agree with Dr. Hamer’s findings, most non-holistic health experts do agree that trauma can have a negative effect on the body. A study done by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that there is a strong relationship between the number of childhood traumas one has experienced and the number of health risk factors for leading causes of death as an adult. Furthermore, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that emotional well-being is a critical part of staying healthy.

What Physical Effects Can Result From Trauma?

There are many different ways that trauma can manifest itself in one’s body. These can include chronic pain, irritable bowels, stomach issues, recurring migraines, back pain, regular illness and even diseases such as cancer.

Trauma manifests itself in the body like this because the nervous system entered a survival mode when a traumatic experience took place but did not revert from survival mode when the traumatic event ended. When the nervous system stays in survival mode, stress hormones like cortisol are released constantly, resulting in high blood pressure and increased blood sugar. This in turn reduces the immune system’s ability to heal and can cause physical symptoms to occur since the body is in constant distress.

Healing Trauma in the Body

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Image Credit: Pasquale Vitiello

Physical effects and illness as a result from trauma are the body’s way of telling us that the trauma is unresolved and needs to be worked through. Since the trauma and pain are interconnected, many people find that a combination of physical therapy or medical treatment with psychotherapy help resolve both the emotional and physical effects of trauma.

Many people who experience long-lasting physical conditions such as chronic pain or illness do not know that it may have been caused by a traumatic event. However, trauma can manifest itself in the body even if the person doesn’t remember the trauma or believes that the trauma no longer affects them. Thankfully, these physical and psychological scars of trauma can be reduced with proper therapy and treatment.

Feature Image: Jay Mantri