Trauma & the Effects on the Brain

Have you ever experienced a traumatic event in your life that literally created a completely different person under your skin??? Or have you ever known someone who went through a traumatic experience?? They are never the same. The person changes. They do things differently, say things differently, react differently, feel differently, speak differently, walk differently, love differently, EVERYTHING about them is different!

Why is that you ask??? Well for many reasons. First of all, can you imagine the worst experience ever?? For some it’s a form of abuse, change, war, death, or loss of some sort. For me it was witnessing and embracing my brother’s dead body in my home. Trauma comes in many forms. It can be extreme and it can be minor. It can stick with you forever or it can stay for a while and leave. For some, it changes them completely. For others, they may change small things in life.

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I never asked my Doctor or therapist what my diagnosis was, but most likely with my symptoms and changes it was either PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, or an Adjustment Disorder of some sort. I had panic attacks, flash backs daily, I was a zombie, a robot…Did what I needed to, but that’s it. Pushed people away, drank heavily every day. I avoided going home the same way I went home that day, Because I would experience it again every time. I didn’t go through the front door of my mom’s house, because I would see him laying there every time. I isolated myself from my family. I had sleep problems, sleep paralysis, nightmares, I would wake up screaming or crying, I would feel extreme pain all over my body, I was self-destructive in the worst way. I didn’t want to live….I knew my old self had died and was buried with him on that day.

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Trauma affects a person deep inside their heart, soul, and brain. One thing people who experience trauma have in common is what happens to their brain. The amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex get altered during traumatic experiences, and rarely return to the same functioning before the trauma occurred.

The amygdala is responsible for our FEAR response center. Hippocampus manages our response to EMOTIONS and helps us manage difficult thoughts and emotions and respond appropriately. The Prefrontal cortex is the THINKING center and responsible for rational thought, problem solving, empathy, and awareness. These are very important parts of our brain that help us function appropriately and acceptably.

For a person who has experienced a traumatic event the Thinking center is under-activated, the Emotional regulation center is under-activated, and the Fear center is over-activated at all times due to that one traumatic experience. Because of this the chemicals of your brain get thrown off causing a permanent chemical imbalance. Not only do the chemicals get all mixed up, but you are unable to focus, unable to function, unable to make decisions, have trouble distinguishing between right and wrong, and can’t control your emotions or actions.

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So imagine being a person who has experienced trauma. They must heal from the event, and learn about their new self. They have to be introduced to the new person they have become, but how does one do that if they don’t even know that they have changed??

Many have no clue anything is wrong because of the damage to the brain caused by the trauma. If someone experiences trauma and doesn’t have a support system what happens?? Many get lost and end up sabotaging everything in their life. They never recover. If they do have a support system…someone will come along and force them to get help or make changes.

If you know someone who has been acting or doing things differently talk to them, support them, listen to them, help them. Don’t back down until they are seeking help from a skilled Counselor. You could be the one who helps them realize something is wrong or different with them. It was my sister who came to me one day with anger towards me, because she didn’t understand what was going on with me. She was the one that helped me get back on track. I was able to learn about the new me. Which allowed me to create an even more confident, outgoing, motivated version of my old self. I will forever be grateful for her. Who knows what I would’ve become without support.

If you need help or know someone who is in need of help. Call us today. Our Counselors can help you discover the new person you have become, and help you process the trauma. We can guide you to living a fulfilling, productive life. Don’t allow the trauma to define you. Learn and grow from it…life is too beautiful to spend it living as a robot.

Positive Soul Holistic Therapy

210-858-6127

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