How the body keeps the score on trauma | Bessel van der Kolk for Big Think+

Elevated stress hormones: When we experience trauma, the body releases a surge of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones help us respond to danger in the short term, but prolonged exposure can lead to chronic inflammation, weakened immune system, and increased risk of physical health problems.
Dysregulated nervous system: Trauma can disrupt the nervous system’s ability to regulate itself, leading to symptoms like hypervigilance, anxiety, flashbacks, and difficulty sleeping.
Changes in brain structure and function: Studies show that trauma can alter the structure and function of certain brain regions, particularly those involved in emotion regulation, memory, and learning.
Physical sensations: Trauma can manifest as physical sensations like chronic pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, and body aches.

Behavioral and emotional changes:
Difficulty regulating emotions: People who have experienced trauma may struggle to manage their emotions, leading to outbursts of anger, sadness, or fear.
Dissociation: Dissociation is a coping mechanism that involves detaching from oneself or reality. This can be a way to avoid the overwhelming emotions and memories associated with the trauma.
Changes in relationships: Trauma can make it difficult to trust others or form healthy relationships.
Self-destructive behaviors: People who have experienced trauma may engage in self-destructive behaviors like substance abuse, self-harm, or risky sexual behavior.

These are just some of the ways that the body “keeps the score” on trauma. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences trauma differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all response. However, understanding the potential impacts of trauma on the body and mind can help us develop more effective ways to heal and recover.
Here are some resources that you may find helpful:
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
The National Center for PTSD:
The Trauma & Mental Health Report:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

Remember, healing from trauma is possible. If you are struggling, please reach out for help from a qualified mental health professional.