Woman in white shirt holding her neckTrauma isn’t easy. You know that it takes time to heal, to overcome, and to move forward again. But trauma isn’t just a battle that you’re fighting in your own head. It affects your body, too.

Trauma is not just a figment of the mind; it is a narrative written deep within the very cells of our body. While we try to move on mentally, our bodies have their own way of keeping score. Often, trauma manifests itself in physical sensations, patterns of tension, or even chronic illnesses that can seem inexplicable.

From the subtle tightening in your chest to chronic pain or fatigue, your body communicates distress signals long after the traumatic event has passed. 

Let’s learn more about some of the common ways you can feel trauma in your body.

Changes in Breathing Patterns

Typically, during a traumatic event, someone’s breathing pattern will change in one of two ways. For some, their breathing may quicken and even become short or shallow. This type of breathing mimics hyperventilation.

Another variation in breathing patterns is freezing or holding a breath. This action can occur until the person feels like they’re going to pass out because they are trying to figure out how to respond to the trauma that occurred.

During and after experiencing a traumatic event, your body can fall into fight or flight mode. Even after experiencing the trauma, it can take a while for your body and brain to believe that you are truly safe and out of danger. A traumatic event can actually stay with both your body and brain even after the trauma occurs and is done and over with.

Changes in Heart Rate

Woman standing outside facing sun holding her backSimilar to breathing patterns, the heart rate can also change due to experiencing trauma. The changes could include but aren’t limited to high blood pressure, hypertension, increased heart rate, or even decreased heart rate in some cases.

Digestive Issues

Digestive issues are common with mental health issues, especially when relating to trauma. There are many different signs or symptoms relating to stomach aches, pains, and digestive issues like diarrhea or intestinal cramping. After experiencing a traumatic event, it can be common to feel sick to your stomach with what just occurred. These feelings can linger long after the traumatic event has passed. Even certain sights, sounds, tastes, smells, or sounds may trigger digestive issues due to memories associated with the trauma.

Tense Muscles

Another common sign of trauma in the body is having tense or aching muscles. The body will naturally clench or tighten as a way to protect itself. Think about how you would respond if someone would throw a first or punch in your direction. You may freeze completely, or your body may do the work for you. Your hands may instinctively cover your face and your body may tighten all over getting ready to brace for impact.

Next Steps

Young man reclined on couch with laptop smiling and looking towards ceilingTrauma isn’t something that happens and just goes away on its own. Trauma is something that must be dealt with in order to overcome it. You can’t just mark a date on the calendar hoping to be healed by then. The longer you push those feelings deep, down inside of yourself, the longer it will take to process the trauma.

When you aren’t able to deal with the trauma at the moment, the trauma has nowhere else to go but to stay within your own body. This is why your brain and body hold onto a lot of the signs relating to the trauma.

Overcoming a traumatic event takes time. All of the symptoms and challenges described here may be intensified with complex trauma. Complex trauma happens when there are multiple traumatic events, often beginning in childhood. Learn more about counseling for trauma here. When you’re ready, I’m here for you. I’ll work with you to make sure you’re feeling comfortable and ready to work through all of the issues relating to your trauma. Don’t delay in getting the help you need and deserve. Reach out to me today to set up a consultation.