person with trauma

Can Trauma Be Stored in the Body?

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The mind-body connection is powerful. Researchers are finding more evidence of this relationship and how thoughts, feelings and beliefs can negatively or positively affect our bodies. 

For example, the bacteria in your gut has an impact on your emotional health. Stress can weaken the lining of your stomach, compromising gut health. This makes you susceptible to fatigue, inflammatory conditions, depression and anxiety. 

Knowing how stress can affect the body, it's important to manage your stress levels. But, what if you're carrying around stress that you don't know about? Unresolved trauma can be “stored” in the muscles and tissues. If you have chronic pain, substance abuse or other mental health issues, it's possible that unprocessed trauma is at the root of them all. 

Let’s learn more about trauma, how the body can hold onto it and ways to release it from the body.

Trauma and the Human Body 

Most humans experience trauma at some point in their lives. Though the word “trauma” is often associated with war, sexual assault or abuse, it can refer to less obvious experiences, too. These smaller traumas are called micro-traumas, and they accumulate over the years. 

Whether the trauma comes from one event or many, the body can store them. This means that you may carry emotional trauma with you. For example, if you have ever cried during massage therapy or acupuncture, this is probably repressed pain being released from your body.

Symptoms of traumatic stress can also present themselves as physical pain. When you're stressed, your muscles are constricted. Also, the body may have a hard time going back to its original state. It stays in survival mode and has higher cortisol and blood pressure levels, making it more prone to feeling pain. 

How the Body Stores Trauma 

The organs, tissues, skin, muscles and endocrine glands can store trauma. These parts have peptide receptors that let them access and retain emotional information. This means that your memories are in your body and your brain. 

While this may be hard to believe, you feel positive and negative emotions in your body every day. Here are some common emotions and the places you may feel them: 

  • Anger and pride in the neck, head and shoulders.
  • Love and happiness fill the entire body.
  • Anxiety and fear are felt in the chest.
  • Depression affects most of the body, especially the limbs. 

How to Release Emotional Trauma 

Most people need professional intervention to release emotional turbulence, especially if they have a co-occuring substance use disorder. For the best results, choose a dual diagnosis treatment center that has experience working with trauma survivors. 

When seeking treatment, a number of therapies help uncover suppressed emotions. Each person is different, so you may respond better to one therapy over another. Here are some examples of treatments that work well for trauma survivors. 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Group and family therapy
  • Exercise
  • Art therapy
  • Biofeedback

Working through Trauma 

Working through trauma is not a one-and-done process. To recover from your past, you will likely need ongoing therapy and support. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to boost your recovery. 

  • Be willing to heal from your past. It does not define you.
  • Accept support from loved ones. Isolating yourself from others can delay your recovery.
  • Seek assistance from trained professionals. Trained therapists will teach you stress management techniques and coping skills to manage your stress levels. 
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness and meditation clear the mind and prevent stress buildup. Meditation is also a good time to connect with yourself. 
  • Forgive yourself and others. Don’t let resentment weigh you down. 
  • Take care of yourself. There is no substitute for self-care. Eat healthy foods, get enough rest and exercise daily. 

Start Your Journey Today

It is possible to recover from past trauma. Awakenings Treatment Center works with individuals to understand their personal struggles and how to help them heal. We can treat co-occurring conditions as well. Our trained therapists work closely with each individual’s support network to achieve the best results. For more information on starting this journey, contact us today.