What is trauma?
Trauma itself, whether physical or mental, can affect not only your psychology and the way you carry out yourself but also your genetic structure and the functioning of your brain.
In this post, I give a detailed look into how trauma affects your brain and the many ways in which you can recover, as well as cope with it.
I would like to point out, however, that the psychology behind trauma and the cognitive effects it may cause is still a growing field, much of which is still being studied.
Therefore, take this post as a reference for future learning and never stop being curious about the pursuit of greater knowledge behind the physiological and psychological implications of trauma, among other things.
How does trauma affect your brain?
When exposed to trauma, the brain works to secure its position from threats and safeguard its health. It does this in a number of ways. The first way is by strengthening existing neurons.
When the brain is exposed to specific stimuli, such as stress, it strengthens and grows specific neurons as a response to continuous exposure to that stimuli.
These neurons are then specifically programmed to be resilient towards that which may cause harm to your brain, which in turn allows for greater efficacy when having to deal with a problem.
What’s more, is that your brain has a specific system that deals with human behaviour and emotional response called the limbic system. The limbic system itself is comprised of many primary structures.
Two of these structures are the amygdala and hippocampus. The amygdala is responsible for emotional memory, whereas the hippocampus allows you to create new memories as well as remember past ones.
These two structures, along with other structures in the limbic system work in tandem to regulate emotional response and enable us to carry out activities necessary for survival.
How genetics affect you
The brain itself is extremely complex and full of mysteries that science is still trying to understand. What we know, however, is the idea of genetic adaptations and how they may affect you as well as your offspring.
Genetics has been a topic for discussion as well as research for quite a while now. Specifically, genetics has been a scientific field ever since the contributions of Gregor Mendell in the mid 19th century.
With that said, in relation to how trauma may affect your genes, depending on the intensity and how often you experience certain trauma, it is more than likely that you may pass on genes that allow for your offspring to be more susceptible or resilient to certain stimuli.
To put it into context, if you were to expose yourself to long periods of intense focus when carrying out an activity, such as a game of chess, continuously and formed a habit of playing chess, more than likely your children will have genes that will enable them to focus better as well as strategize more efficiently.
However, the beauty of genetics, as well as your brain, is that as much as it can enable you to become a better person as well as provide your children with more favourable characteristics. It’s also a double-edged sword.
The brain is quite plastic, in the sense that it can be moulded and shaped depending on how you use it. If you were to continuously read and form a habit of reading, your brain and the neurons within it may alter in order to accommodate that demand for reading.
Whereas, if you were to instead watch movies for long periods of time, after a while your brains structure, as well as the neural connections within it, will change to accommodate the demand for watching movies.
The old “use it or lose it” idea is quite true when referring to your brain and how it carries out specific tasks.
How to recover from past trauma
Whether physical or psychological, trauma therapy is a great activity to undergo. In the case of physical trauma, it is often essential for a patient to participate in physical rehabilitation sessions, as well as having a genuine drive to seek and accept help in order to regain physical health.
The same can be said about psychological trauma. Like physical trauma, psychological trauma can often cause a person to become depressed, anxious and less trusting towards people.
In extreme cases, many of those who have suffered severe psychological trauma may experience forms of PTSD as well as panic attacks. These conditions are not to be taken lightly and those who do suffer from these conditions should seek professional help.
Symptoms of PTSD are as follows; nightmares, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), flashbacks, feeling extremely anxious.
If you or a loved one have experienced these symptoms and are concerned for their, as well as, your own well-being then I highly recommend you seek professional help. Remember, there’s no harm in asking for help.
How to cope with trauma
Beyond therapy, there are many other ways to cope with trauma. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and keep your mind off anything which may trigger past psychological trauma.
Another way to cope with trauma is to spend time with loved ones. Spending time with other people is a great way to reduce stress as well as improve mood, while also strengthening relationships, which can become difficult when suffering from psychological trauma.
A third way to cope with trauma is to simply hug someone. Your pet, a family member, even a friend. Hugging someone has shown to release oxytocin, nicknamed ‘the love hormone’, which is associated with feelings of trust and empathy once it is released in the body. So, with that said, go hug someone. Hugs are great.
One last thing I’d like to mention is that if you are interested in truly discovering more about your own trauma then I highly recommend checking out this amazon affiliate link to a book called; It didn’t start with you by Mark Wolynn.
This book goes into great detail about your genetics as well as how to end the cycle of trauma through generations, which has the possibility of ending your own suffering.
I hope this post has helped you in some way and that whatever you’re going through gets better. Remember, there’s no harm in seeking help, it’s part of getting better.