Make an Appointment: 754-300-0796  |  email me

  • Trauma and The Brain response

    First of all, what is Trauma?

    A type of damage that is the result of a severe event that overwhelms our ability to deal with it, making us feel helpless and vulnerable. It is different for each person. It can happen in several ways, for instance in a single event (isolated), a series of repeated events, long time, sudden and unpredictable experiences.

    A person that has gone through painfully unexpected events, can feel a range of emotions both immediately after the event and in the long run. They may feel overwhelmed, helpless, shocked, or have difficulty processing their experiences. Trauma can also cause physical symptoms and can have long-term effects on a person’s well-being. If symptoms persist and do not decrease in severity, it can indicate that the trauma has developed into a mental health disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

    Childhood trauma

    Research indicates that children are especially vulnerable to trauma because their brains are still developing. Children experience a heightened state of stress during terrible events, and their bodies release hormones related to stress and fear.

    This type of developmental trauma can disrupt normal brain development. As a result, trauma, especially ongoing trauma, can significantly affect a child’s long-term emotional development, mental health, physical health, and behavior. The sense of fear and helplessness may persist into adulthood.

    Effects of Trauma on the Brain

    Our brains shift to survival mode during a traumatic event, whether we get ready to either fight or run from the danger or freeze. Anything that shocks us or puts us in a dangerous position will trigger the reaction. Sometimes the primary trauma response mechanism persists, making it harder for someone to operate as we wish. It alters thoughts, feelings, and behaviors for a considerable time after the initial encounter. This brain ability includes bringing about memories or nightmares, a persistent need to stay on guard, solitude, rage, negative thinking and recollections, self-destructive behaviors, etc.

    Emotional Trauma and Changes in The Brain

    According to research, the amygdala of somebody with PTSD has enhanced functionality in reaction to cues that remind them of previous trauma and other fear-related incidents. PTSD individuals, unsurprisingly, have higher fear reactions, and a new study implies that this could be because of alterations inside the amygdala.

    Traumatic Stress can shrink the hippocampus as well which function is related to learning and memory, sometimes after going through a traumatic event, we cannot remember in detail how things actually happened. Individuals with PTSD experience anything that reminds them of their trauma, the hippocampus starts having diminished functionality. Trauma affects not only the activity of the hippocampus but can also influence its architecture, depending on how severe the trauma is. Therefore, places that remind us of traumatic events can trigger extreme fear, tension, and terror.


    It might seem like trauma does irreversible damage to your brain–that’s not true. Our brains are extremely adaptable. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to form new connections, explains why we can rewire our brains to reverse trauma’s damaging effects.

    Our brains are more susceptible to change than many people think, and even though overcoming trauma is a difficult process, you’re actually changing the way your brain works: adding new pathways, increasing the functions of certain areas, and strengthening connections. It’s the same mechanism that allows us to grow and change by learning.

    During the healing process, you can actually rewire and retrain your brain to reverse the effects of trauma. You can reinforce your prefrontal cortex and get back rationality and control. You can strengthen your hippocampus and help your memory work how it’s supposed to. With time and the right help and therapeutic methods, you can find a way to overcome trauma.

    At Aventurine Counseling and Coaching, we use a technique called Traumatic Incident Reduction or TIR

    Traumatic Incident Reduction provides a safe space and person-centered approach. A past incident loses its ability to hurt us. In the process, we release our resistance and the painful emotion and negative thought patterns contained in that past trauma. At the point where the incident has been fully viewed, we feel our attention become un-stuck from it and often have an insight or realization. This is called an endpoint. By providing a means of completely facing a painful incident, TIR can and does deliver relief from the incident’s negative effects, enabling us to fully move on.

    If you feel identify with any of these symptoms, call today to start your healing journey with us.