Thankfully we live in an era where people have become aware of the impact mental health can have on their overall well-being. The influence of emotional trauma affects multiple aspects of our being, including the body and mind – it may manifest emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Understanding the many ways emotional trauma can impact us allows us to work through our experiences in a more holistic way
Jonah Engler believes that each person will respond to emotional trauma uniquely, but some general physical health impacts are visible amongst most people.
The Impact of Trauma on Physical Health
Emotional trauma can lead to chronic pain as the body tries to protect itself from further injury. This may manifest as headaches, back pain, stomach pain, and abdominal issues. Such pain is persistent and doesn’t decrease with time.
It’s common to feel exhausted after experiencing trauma as the body is in a state of “fight or flight.” This can lead to difficulty sleeping and concentrating, as well as irritability. This constant lack of energy and feeling of overwhelming lethargy can make everyday life and tasks a struggle.
Immune system problems
Emotional trauma can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, diseases, and other infections. Early exposure to significant amounts of trauma during childhood can lead to epigenetic changes causing a permanent rise in cortisol levels – a hormone released in response to stress – which suppresses the immune system.
Change in appetite
When we experience emotional trauma, our appetite and metabolism tend to get affected. This may manifest as either overeating or undereating. Some people use food as a way to cope with their emotions, while others lose their appetite altogether.
As a result of the changes in appetite, many people experience weight gain or loss. This can be a direct result of emotional trauma but can also be a side effect of medications prescribed to help with trauma-related conditions, such as anti-depression and anxiety drugs.
The stress of emotional trauma can literally impact your heart and take a toll on your health. Emotional trauma and PTSD increase blood pressure and heart rate, doubling the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In severe cases, acute grief and fear can cause a ‘stunned heart’ – a phenomenon characterized by abnormal heart rhythms.
Emotional trauma can lead to sexual dysfunction, either due to physical pain or mental or emotional issues. This can manifest as a loss of interest in sex, difficulty getting aroused, or problems with orgasm.
Anxiety and depression
Jonah Engler believes that emotional trauma often triggers anxiety and depression. Symptoms of anxiety can include panic attacks, racing heart, sweating, and feeling like you’re in danger. Depression may cause feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and worthlessness.
Often grieving individuals end up succumbing to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the pain of emotional trauma. Addictions should never be taken likely or left unattended as they can lead to severe health complications down the road.
Jonah Engler emphasizes that if you’re struggling to cope with the physical health impacts of emotional trauma, it’s essential to seek professional help. A therapist can provide you with the tools and support you need to work through your experiences in a healthy way.