What is the impact of chronic stress and trauma?
When you experience stress or trauma, your sympathetic nervous system is preparing you to deal with a certain “threat”. Your body's so-called fight/flight/freeze response kicks in, ready to tackle anything from being irritated to facing violence. Evolution has not caught up with our modern society, resulting in your brain making no distinction between you being attacked by a lion or working on a deadline.
Long after a “threatening” event occurred you can still feel tense, become quicker agitated or feel anxious. Especially, when the “threat” is chronic (like work stress or neglect) or traumatic (like an accident or rape). You reside, as it were, in a state of readiness, ready to fight or flight. Your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, keep your body prepared for action, even when there is no longer a need for it.
Being on alert at all times is not only tiring but also has serious health impacts like: high blood pressure, tensed muscles (causing back pain, headache), anxiety, depression, and it weakens your immune system, metabolism and libido.
Consequently, childhood trauma still impacts the way our body and mind functions today.