Physical symptoms might make you race to see a modern medicine practitioner, such as your primary care physician (PCP) or a specialist. I’m definitely not advocating against that, but sadly, many patients are left frustrated when they don’t receive a diagnosis for why they are suffering with health concerns.
When modern medicine cannot decode what is going on in your body, emotions could be the root cause of your struggles. Although not always obvious, trauma and difficult emotional situations can contribute to physical symptoms more than you may think.
Research suggests that nearly 83% of people in the United States experience trauma, and at least 6% develop the severe symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, you don’t need to have experienced serious trauma or have full-blown PTSD for your body to express painful or stressful situations in physical ways.
You don’t just experience and memorize life using thought or emotion. You experience and remember it through physical sensations, smell, hearing, and visual images. Your body creates cortisol when stressed and feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins when we are happy.
These chemicals produce physical and emotional reactions, so it makes perfect sense that events are recorded and stored in your physical memory, as well as your emotional and intellectual memory.
So how can your trauma affect your physical state?
There are so many factors that can impact the types and severity of trauma and stress reactions. These include the age at which the events occurred, intensity and duration, frequency (one time or multiple occurrences), learned coping skills, co-existing conditions such as physical or mental illness, the availability of a support system and therapy, the reaction of family and others when the experience is shared, and whether the experience has been shared at all… etc.
We can store trauma in the body in both subtle and extreme ways. Think tightness in your muscles, like super tight hips or pelvic floor. But it can also show up as addictive tendencies, eating disorders, gut issues, headaches, changes in heart rate or blood pressure, skin conditions or sensitivity, insomnia or oversleeping, low libido—the list goes on.
The good news? We can heal from this.
Try asking yourself what was going on in your life when the symptoms started. Be open-minded. Even events that didn’t seem stressful at the time can create symptoms later. Learning how to connect to your intuition and body to gain confidence, self-love, and guidance is crucial to healing.
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