There is no limit to the impact that trauma can have on a human being. In fact, experiencing traumatic events in childhood and throughout the course of a life can severely alter a person’s path in their life. Trauma causes physical, emotional, and psychological pain. In addition, the effects of trauma on the brain may affect the way we handle relationships, manage day-to-day challenges, and think about life.
If you or a loved one has suffered through a traumatic event and is struggling today, contact our caring team at Bayview Recovery online or call 855.478.3650 to learn how a trauma therapy program can help.
The Brain Tries To Keep You Safe
One of the brain’s key functions is to keep us safe. The human brain converts experiences into memories so you can prioritize activities that reward you with positive feelings and joy, and at the same time avoid experiences with negative outcomes. As you experience trauma, your brain works diligently to keep you safe and secure. Going forward, your brain will continue to warn you of danger. This will happen even after the threat passes and a traumatic episode has come to a conclusion. Brain trauma effects include this natural reaction that changes the way the brain functions.
3 Negative Effects of Trauma on the Brain
Anyone suffering from emotional trauma or PTSD may exhibit emotional scars for months, years, or even for the rest of their life, exhibiting a heightened fear and stress to future situations and events. It becomes clear that trauma effects on brain are numerous and can be severe.
Studies have shown that trauma does impact brain functions in multiple ways. The effects of trauma on the brain impact three areas of the brain the most: the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. These areas play a part in regulating emotions and responding to fear. After traumatic events, these areas may perform and function differently than before.
The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure of nervous tissue in the brain. It is responsible for regulating emotions, your survival instincts, response to fear, and memory. Traumatic stress over-activates the amygdala and when this happens, your response to fear becomes more intense, leading to memories of traumatic events turning into scary nightmares and severe flashbacks. Sleeping often becomes an issue. Trauma effects on the brain produce an overactive amygdala which also creates difficulty in seeing the difference between a threat in the past and a threat right now.
The impact of this can be debilitating because when you are reminded of trauma, the amygdala responds the exact same way it would if you were experiencing it for the first time. This then causes you to be on high alert and on edge all the time. An overactive amygdala may also cause:
- Chronic stress
- Heightened fear
- Increased irritation
- An inability to calm down
The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for storing and retrieving memories and differentiating between past and present experiences. When it comes to the effects of trauma on the brain, the hippocampus may be physically impacted.
The volume of the hippocampus in people suffering from PTSD has been studied to be smaller than others. This makes it hard to distinguish between the past and present because reminders of traumatic experiences can usher in new fear, stress, and panic.
Ideally, the brain would be able to create and store new memories. However, traumatic stress can keep old memories front of the mind. This causes you to live in a constant state of stress because the victim cannot differentiate past trauma and the relative safety of their present situation. The fight-or-flight response is always on due to the brain’s perception of a new threat.
The Prefrontal Cortex
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that helps us reason, regulate emotions and interpret them, control our impulses, and helps us solve complex problems. Research data shows that trauma can diminish functionality in the prefrontal cortex, resulting in a negative impact on your ability to learn new information, manage emotions, and solve new problems. Brain trauma effects your logical thinking, which in turn, makes you feel incapable of controlling your fear.
Learn More at Bayview Recovery
The brain can be healed and you can experience recovery from the emotional trauma you have experienced. The altered functionality of your amygdala, hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex at the hands of trauma can be reversed. Contact us using our secure online form or call us confidentially at 855.478.3650 today to learn more about how our trauma therapy program can help with the effects of trauma on the brain.