PTSD and Trauma: A Pathway to Chronic Medical Issues
You just don’t understand what’s going on. The pain is nearly constant, and it seems as if the medication doesn’t work as it should. At night you have trouble falling asleep and getting a full night’s rest. Plus, your stomach is always bothering you. Did you ever stop to consider that what your feeling could actually be connected to PTSD and trauma?
When most people think of trauma, they consider emotional or psychological problems. Yet, they
rarely ever think of chronic medical issues being connected to trauma.
It turns out, though, that trauma greatly influences your medical health as well.
Trauma: When the Body Compensates for the Brain
When you experienced trauma, your brain became stuck in a mode where you’re always attuned to threats and risk. Specifically, your brain wants to make sure that you don’t get exposed to that kind of trauma again.
So, you begin to do things about how to lower that risk. One example is that you may avoid certain situations that you know may trigger memories. However, that doesn’t work all the time.
At times, you’re exposed to a triggering event out of nowhere, and you’re brought right back to that original trauma again. Your body knows this and tries to compensate. Yet, this causes a lot of stress on your body and, eventually, the wear will begin to show.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) becomes part of your life.
The Link Between Your Body and Your Mind
If you think about this for a moment, it makes sense that your body and mind are linked together.
Your entire body (brain included) is a very complex system. When one part of that system is negatively impacted, such as from trauma, it’s going to have an effect on the rest of that system. The same is true in reverse.
If your body suffers an injury, your mind might experience thoughts such as:
You can’t separate your brain from your body and expect the system to work as it should. Both are needed for you to live your life. If one side is damaged, then the other side will feel that damage as well.
How PTSD/Trauma Impacts Your Body
If you have experienced trauma your body might manifest the following:
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Chronic illnesses
- Migraine headaches
- G.I. problems
- Inability to fall asleep or oversleeping
What this means for you is that you are dealing with trauma on two fronts: physical and emotional.
And that double assault makes your life that much more difficult to manage. It becomes harder to get through each day, being bombarded with so many problems.
Lamentably, family and friends may not understand that what is going on with you.
They could miss the connections between your trauma and physical symptoms. In fact, they may even incorrectly assume that you aren’t experiencing any physical problems at all.
This misunderstanding only makes things worse for you. It may cause you to feel isolated and could lead you to misuse alcohol or even substance abuse to alleviate the loneliness.
Getting the Help You Need
Of course, to manage your health issues, it’s important that you try to find a doctor who understands the link between chronic medical problems and trauma.
However, the answer to making real progress will lie with finding a therapist who also understands how trauma can greatly affect your body.
It won’t be easy, but working with a therapist will be helpful. In fact, you may even find after a few sessions that your physical symptoms are getting better. That’s because, with the help of therapy, you’ll be treating the real root of your problems.
PTSD and trauma are well-known conditions and can be treated. In recent years, researchers have learned so much about how trauma and PTSD can affect a person’s life. Knowing that the answer to your chronic medical problems lies with your trauma, can be a beginning to receiving the help you need to get better.
Many of the clients I work with have physical health issues. In my psychotherapy practice, we use trauma treatment therapy modalities that put the body front and center. These include EMDR, Neurofeedback therapy, and Mindfulness Based Trauma treatments. I’ve been certified as an advanced practitioner in Pat Ogden’s Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Richard Schwartz Internal Family Systems therapy. If you would like to speak with me about how I can help you with chronic medical issues, please fill out the contact form I would be happy to talk with you!
To learn more about my work with PTSD and Trauma, click here.