Trauma is an emotional response to a distressing or disturbing experience that overwhelms your ability to cope. Trauma can change your brain in multiple ways that affect your memory and decision-making abilities, causing hypervigilance that can put you on constant alert and make it impossible to relax. If left unaddressed, trauma can affect your relationships, health, and ability to carry out your daily responsibilities.
Though everyone reacts to and processes trauma differently, here are five typical effects of untreated trauma.
1. Anxiety and Avoidance
A one-time or ongoing traumatic event can shatter your sense of safety and make you profoundly mistrustful toward others. An inability to regulate emotions could cause you to lash out at people. Since trauma triggers can be unpredictable, you might start rearranging your life in hopes of avoiding them. The isolation caused by shutting out the world may make you lose interest in previously enjoyable activities and relationships.
2. Depression-Like Symptoms
When facing extreme stress, your body can go into survival mode and react with the following defense mechanisms that resemble depression.
- Dissociating or feeling numb
- Trouble concentrating
- Flat, blank facial expressions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Aches and pains
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
3. Panic Attacks
Trauma can cause your brain to get stuck in fight-or-flight mode, suppressing your memory and impulse control and trapping you in a constant state of strong emotional reactivity. When you are chronically tense, nervous, and unable to escape your racing thoughts, you might have frequent panic attacks. The immediate feeling of terror associated with a panic attack can make you feel like you are spiraling out of control or even dying.
4. Physical Health Complications
Unaddressed trauma can cause long-term physical health problems like these:
- Chronic pain
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
5. Substance Use Disorder
The cycle of negativity caused by untreated trauma is difficult to escape. Though drugs and alcohol can cause short-lived relief from trauma symptoms, self-medicating with these substances can gradually cause a chemical dependency. When addiction co-occurs with untreated trauma, health professionals call it a dual diagnosis. Simultaneously addressing both components of your mental and behavioral health disorder is essential for restoring your health and wellness, processing your trauma, and starting you on a path to recovery.
Trauma and Addiction Treatment in Western Washington
Though it’s challenging to overcome trauma’s repercussions, you can retrain your brain and restore your inner peace in an accredited treatment program. At Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers, we offer the highest level of care, with individualized care plans designed specifically for each client.
Our team has helped thousands of adults learn to manage addiction, regain control of their lives, and avoid a relapse. Reach out to our experts when you’re ready to request your complimentary substance use evaluation.