The damage emotional trauma can wreak on your mental well-being can be more challenging to recover from than a physical wound, since trauma changes how your brain works.
- Brain scans of people with post-traumatic stress disorder reveal that they have an overactive amygdala, which is the area that helps us process and control emotions.
- Traumatized people also show decreased function in their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which play crucial roles in regulating behavioral and cognitive functions.
A leading characteristic of emotional trauma includes a persistent feeling of being tense, afraid or on edge. Due to trauma, you might have a heightened fight-or-flight response that makes you startle easily in response to various sensory triggers. You can also experience mood swings, headaches, trouble concentrating and chronic fatigue.
Trauma victims often carry the burden of complex emotions like guilt and shame, on top of co-occurring mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression. As a result, you might deal with frequent intrusive thoughts, nightmares or flashbacks to the traumatic event.