How Trauma Impacts the Brain

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

When we go through trauma, our brains don’t function like they normally do, we shift into survival mode. Like a deer in the headlights, our brains direct all of our mental and physical energy toward dealing with the immediate threat until it’s gone. In normal situations, this state fades over time.

But trauma isn’t just something we experience after being in a war zone or in a violent situation, we can be traumatized by our relationships. Trauma can change the way we think, feel, and act for a long time after the initial event. For many people, this could mean flashbacks or nightmares, a constant feeling of being on edge, loneliness, anger, intrusive thoughts and memories, self-destructive actions, and more. Trauma can change your brain on many, many levels, from the way you make decisions, down to your immediate subconscious response to the world around you. Part of the reason it can be so hard to overcome the effects of trauma is that it goes after several areas of your brain at one time.

According to a study, trauma mainly affects three important parts of your brain: The amygdala, which is your emotional and instinctual center. The hippocampus, which controls your memory. And the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for regulating your emotions and your impulses. All three parts work together to manage your stress. When you are reminded of a traumatic experience, your amygdala, that emotional and survival center goes into overdrive, acting just as it would as if you were experiencing the trauma for the very first time. Your prefrontal cortex also becomes suppressed, so you’re less capable of controlling your fear, you are sort of stuck in a purely reactive state.

Meanwhile, trauma also leads to reduced activity in the hippocampus. One of whose functions is to distinguish between the past and the present. In other words, your brain cannot tell the difference between the actual traumatic event and the memory of it. It perceives things that trigger memories of traumatic events as new threats themselves. Trauma can cause your brain to remain in a state of hyper vigilance, suppressing your memory and impulse control, and trapping you in a constant state of strong emotional reactivity.

It might seem like trauma does irreversible damage to your brain, but that’s simply not true. Our brains are extremely adaptable. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new connections, explains why we can rewire our brains to reverse trauma’s damaging effects. Our brains are more susceptible to change than many people think. And even though overcoming a trauma is a very difficult process, you’re actually changing the way your brain works. Adding new pathways, increasing the function of certain areas, and strengthening connections, it’s the same mechanism that allows us to grow and change through learning. During the healing process, you can actually rewire and retrain your brain to reverse the effects of trauma. With time and the right help and therapeutic methods like neurofeedback, you can find a way to overcome trauma right down to your neurons. Wanna learn more about your brain and how it functions? Call and schedule your brain map today.


Posted on

April 26, 2023