Maybe you lived through a traumatic event years ago, or perhaps your life has been marked by ongoing experiences with trauma. No matter how long it’s been since you experienced trauma, you can’t seem to shake the sense that something is still wrong.

You may be in a completely safe place with no real threats to your safety or wellbeing anymore. Perhaps you’ve spent years practicing self-care. You might have even gone to talk therapy and shared your experiences with a therapist. Yet you didn’t find it very beneficial.

Sometimes, people struggle to heal from trauma because the way our bodies hold on to these traumatic memories is not widely misunderstood. Trauma does not just affect our health. It can also have an impact on our physical wellbeing. Let’s explore how trauma might be influencing your physical health.

Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response

If you have lived through trauma, it can influence your body’s “fight, flight, or freeze” response to threats. Several parts of your brain work together to allow you to respond when you are facing a genuine, imminent threat to your safety.

This allows you to determine whether it would be optimal to fight the threat, run away from the threat, or freeze and “play dead” to avoid attention. When you’ve survived trauma, your brain might see everything as a threat. This keeps you in a constant state of hypervigilance and preventing you from relaxing.

Encountering Trauma Triggers

You may feel like you’re constantly under threat. Alternatively, you might have specific triggers that remind you of your trauma and set off the fight, flight, or freeze response. Most of the day, you feel “normal.” But when you encounter one of these triggers, you begin spiraling. Your heart might race, your mouth dries up, and you feel faint. You may even have a full-blown panic attack.

At times, you might even restructure your day to avoid encountering triggers, including avoiding specific people, places, or situations that bring up memories of your trauma.

Muscle Tension

When you feel like you always need to be on guard against threats, you might end up dealing with constant muscle tension. This is because your body is always ready to spring into action to protect you.

It can seem like nothing releases this nervous energy from your body. Exercise might bring temporary relief, yet it’s certainly no cure. You may even grind your teeth at night and wake up with headaches. Sometimes, you might even wonder if something is wrong with your joints.

Physical Illness

The aftermath of trauma can take a heavy toll on your immune system. This is because your body is devoting so much energy to “protecting” you, even when you’re physically safe, that your internal resources are run down.

You might find yourself getting sick more often than you used to or struggling with persistent headaches or stomachaches that don’t have any discernible cause.


Overall, carrying the physical burden of trauma can leave you feeling exhausted. You may have trouble sleeping because your traumatic memories crop up in your dreams. You might simply feel depleted during the day because you’re grappling with so much emotional turmoil.

Trying to plan your days around dodging triggers can become exasperating. You might try to hide these behaviors from your friends because you don’t want to explain your past trauma. The shame itself can become exhausting, too.

Are you looking for a way to heal from trauma that has affected your mental and physical health? A therapist can guide you through this process. Connect with us to learn more about our holistic approach to trauma therapy.




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