Telehealth sessions are also available Schedule online here or give us a call at (281) 846-4616

How Trauma effects the brain

How Trauma (Literally) Changes the Brain

Trauma is a complex experience that can have a profound impact on the brain. In fact, trauma can alter both the structure and function of your brain.

Hippocampus — Trauma can lead to a reduction in the size of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is considered the learning center of the brain and is primarily responsible for memory and learning. The hippocampus has been shown to be smaller and less active in those who have experienced trauma. This makes it tricky to problem-solve and to distinguish between the past and the present, keeping you in a constant state of hypervigilance (or strong emotional reactivity).

Amygdala – The amygdala is the “emotional brain” and is the part of the brain that starts the fight-or-flight response.  If you’ve experienced trauma, sometimes the amygdala doesn’t recognize the difference between a past threat and a present threat (or an imagined threat and a real threat). Your body may respond to an imagined or perceived threat as if you are in real danger.

Prefrontal Cortex – The prefrontal cortex is the “rational brain”. If you’ve experienced trauma, chances are that the prefrontal cortex may be less active. This may impede the learning of new information. A less active prefrontal cortex, along with an overactive amygdala, can lead to difficulties in controlling your fear response or struggles with logical thinking.

Physical symptoms – Not the brain, but I think it’s important to mention. Trauma can also result in physical symptoms, such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and chronic pain, as the brain responds to the stress of the traumatic event.

Trauma can have a significant impact on the brain, affecting not just our emotions and thoughts, but also our brain anatomy and physiology. It is important for individuals who have experienced trauma to seek professional help to manage its various effects and promote healing and recovery. It is equally important to practice self-care that include a nutrient-dense diet, sleeping 8-10 hours per night, exercising 4-5 times per week, and practicing mindfulness.

Keep up to date

Sign up to receive news and updates