Psychological trauma can have a range of physical manifestations. That’s because the mind and body are closely interconnected. These physical symptoms can vary widely from person to person and can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences trauma will exhibit physical symptoms, and the severity of these symptoms can also vary.

I specialize in treating trauma. So most of my practice is working with clients who are recovering from trauma including:

  • Complex PTSD (C-PTSD
  • PTSD
  • Developmental Trauma
  • Adult Survivors of Abuse and Neglect

I know that the effects of trauma live on in the body. I’m trained to treat it. And Although I’ve been providing trauma treatment for years, it’s still striking to me how much my clients have suffered with the physical manifestations of psychological trauma.

Every day, I work with clients whose unresolved trauma manifests in the following ways.

Here Are Common Physical Manifestations of Psychological Trauma:


  1. Sleep disturbances: Trauma often leads to intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and hyperarousal, making it challenging for individuals to relax and fall asleep. Even when they do sleep, the quality of rest can be poor, leading to fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
  2. Gastrointestinal problems: The gut is highly sensitive to stress, and trauma can trigger changes in gut function. This may result in symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, gastro-esophageal reflux, and irregular bowel movements. IBS, a common gastrointestinal disorder, can be exacerbated by trauma-related stress.
  3. Headaches and migraines: Trauma-induced stress and tension can cause headaches, including tension headaches and debilitating migraines. These headaches can become chronic in some cases.
  4. Muscle tension and pain: When individuals are under chronic stress due to trauma, their muscles may remain in a state of tension, leading to physical discomfort and pain. The muscles most commonly affected include those in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  5. Cardiovascular symptoms: Stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, are released in response to trauma. These hormones can temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, chronic stress can contribute to the development of cardiovascular problems like hypertension, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  6. Respiratory problems: Trauma can trigger a heightened state of alertness, leading to increased breathing rate, shallow breathing, or hyperventilation. This can result in physical symptoms like shortness of breath or chest tightness.
  7. Immune system suppression: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to illnesses and infections. This is why individuals experiencing trauma may frequently fall ill.
  8. Changes in appetite and weight: People’s eating habits can change significantly in response to trauma. Some individuals may turn to comfort eating, leading to weight gain, while others may lose their appetite, resulting in weight loss.
  9. Skin conditions: Stress can negatively impact the skin, exacerbating conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Skin may become more sensitive, and existing skin issues can flare up during times of high stress.
  10. Chronic pain syndromes: Trauma can contribute to the development of chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. These conditions are characterized by widespread pain, tenderness, and heightened pain sensitivity.
  11. Reproductive and sexual health issues: Trauma can lead to sexual dysfunction, reduced libido, or changes in menstrual cycles for some individuals. The physiological effects of stress on the reproductive system can vary, but they can impact fertility and sexual satisfaction.
  12. Neurological symptoms: Trauma-related stress can affect cognitive function, leading to difficulties with memory, concentration, and decision-making. Individuals may struggle to focus or experience memory lapses.
  13. Autoimmune disorders: While the relationship between trauma and autoimmune diseases is complex and not fully understood, there is evidence suggesting that severe and chronic trauma may contribute to the development or exacerbation of autoimmune disorders.
  14. Substance abuse: Some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate and cope with the emotional pain of trauma. This can lead to addiction and related health problems, including liver damage, heart issues, and mental health complications.

It’s important to recognize that these physical manifestations are not isolated from the psychological impact of trauma. Addressing trauma often involves a holistic /integrative approach that considers both the mental and physical aspects of your well-being. Be sure to seek professional help from mental health providers who specialize in trauma therapy. It is essential for understanding and managing these symptoms effectively.

Learn More About The Physical Manifestations of Trauma

If you are interested in learning more about how trauma can affect your body and your health, please have a look around my site. I’ve posted a large number of articles about recovering from trauma.

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