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Physical Health Issues That Could Be Signs Of Emotional Trauma

Physical Health Issues That Could Be Signs Of Emotional Trauma
Unresolved emotional trauma can lead to physical health symptoms.

An emotional trauma can manifest as chronic pain, fatigue, gut problems, or cardiovascular problems. An expert explains the physical effects of unresolved trauma.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : April 18, 2023 10:14 PM IST

Are you struggling with chronic pain, fatigue, or gut problems? Sometimes these physical symptoms could be a sign of an unresolved emotional trauma like post-traumatic stress disorder.

As functional nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and Founder, iThrive, says, "Emotional trauma can get repressed and stored in the body if it is not properly processed and resolved. This can lead to physical health symptoms such as chronic pain, fatigue, gut problems, thyroid imbalances, fibromyalgia, as well as joint and bone aches. In fact, many autoimmune issues can arise from unresolved emotional trauma."

The expert explains the physical effects of trauma and symptoms that may indicate psychosomatic disorders.

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Physical effects of trauma explained

Mugdha expounds:

The fascia, a complex layer of nerve-rich connective tissue surrounding our organs, can hold onto stress and trauma, resulting in stiffness and pain in the body.

A healthy nervous system moves up and down naturally through states of agitation and relaxation. These are known as the sympathetic state and the parasympathetic state in medical science. When people suffer from post-traumatic issues, their nervous system gets permanently stuck in an "on" mode where it is constantly over-stimulated or an "off" mode where it is constantly depressed:

Symptoms the nervous system is stuck in "on" mode:

  • anxiety
  • panic
  • hyperactivity
  • easily startled
  • inability to relax
  • restlessness
  • hypervigilance
  • chronic pain
  • sleeplessness
  • digestive problems

Symptoms the nervous system is stuck in "off" mode:

  • depression
  • lethargy
  • exhaustion
  • disorientation
  • chronic pain
  • low blood pressure
  • poor digestion

Psychosomatic disorders do exist

"Medical literature has documented psychosomatic disorders, which are psychological conditions that result in physical symptoms that cannot be explained by medical tests or examinations. Clinical case studies have demonstrated the powerful physical effects of trauma, such as the story of a woman who became completely blind shortly after having an argument with her husband. Although medical examinations could not explain her blindness, it was eventually resolved through psychotherapy," asserts Mugdha.

Physical symptoms of PTSD you need to know

The expert elaborates:

Conventional medicine recognizes a condition called PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is mainly thought of as a mental health condition, but it is also said to affect the body in various ways. For instance, chronic pain is a common physical symptom of PTSD, and it can manifest as headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, and back pain. Gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, are also common physical symptoms of PTSD. Fatigue, respiratory issues, and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, can also be caused or exacerbated by PTSD.

Individuals with PTSD may also experience sensory overload, which can manifest as hypersensitivity to light, sound, touch, and other stimuli. Musculoskeletal issues, such as stiffness, weakness, and reduced range of motion, may also be present in those suffering from PTSD. Dermatological issues, such as psoriasis, eczema, and hives, may also be related to PTSD. Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and nightmares, are also common physical symptoms of PTSD. Finally, autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis, may be related to PTSD.

It is important to note that not everyone with PTSD will experience physical symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely, she notes.

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