How Trauma Changes Your Brain And How To Reverse It

Death, a bad breakup, and verbal abuse are just a few examples of trauma that can cause emotional damage. What's interesting and just as dangerous, according to mindbodygreen, is that trauma can also damage the brain in ways that lead to an increased risk of anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trouble sleeping, and more.

A 2015 study published in PLoS One, showed that trauma impacts 5 areas of the brain. The basal ganglia are what make you jump when someone plays a prank on you or freeze up when you're truly scared. Trauma in this region can make you overly anxious or tense.

The amygdala plays a role in how you respond emotionally and overactivity can cause angst and anxiety.

The anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG) allows you to bounce from one thought to the next. Trauma here can make you worry more, hold grudges, and be argumentative.

The thalamus is responsible for how you process emotions. If there's trauma, you can feel as if ordinary sights and sounds are too much to bear.

Lastly, the right temporal lobe deals with stable moods, memory, learning, and processing of what you see and hear. When trauma impacts this area, it can cause you to misread facial expressions or body language in a manner that makes you offensive or feel like you need to protect yourself.

Healing the brain from trauma

According to a 2014 review published in The Permanente Journal, 90% of trauma survivors conquered symptoms with just 3 sessions of a noninvasive treatment called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). WebMD says it's still fairly new, but has been used as a nontraditional form of psychotherapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by military combat, assault, rape, and car accidents. EMDR involves using the patient's own rapid eye movements to minimize the effect of emotionally charged memories caused by traumatic events. These sessions can last as long as 90 minutes and involve the guidance of an EMDR-trained therapist.

Another type of therapy that can help is trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). This treatment has been around since the 90s. Psychology Today says it can treat several types of PTSD and is most commonly used in child patients.

In addition to therapy, being mindful of your day-to-day habits and interactions can also help. Verywell Mind says accepting support, connecting with others, exercising, working with your feelings, practicing self-care, avoiding recreational substances, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and engaging in creativity are good, holistic practices that can help you on your journey towards healing.