The Effects of Trauma on Your Health

Recognizing and Treating the Signs of Food Addiction
May 6, 2021
dating with adhd
Dating Successfully with ADHD
May 14, 2021
 It’s all too common for people who experience traumatic events like abuse, violence, war, crime, and loss to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Substance abuse can help a person deal with emotional pain, bad memories, guilt, shame, anxiety, or terror. Trauma and addiction are highly intertwined; people with past trauma are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse. This dangerous correlation is made worse when disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder or depression develop as a result. Trauma can both cause ongoing problems in your life and negatively affect the people around you.

In the wake of a traumatic experience, some people experience acute stress disorder involving persistent intrusive thoughts or mental images. This often leads to efforts to avoid thinking about the traumatic experience. In many cases, people begin to use drugs or alcohol as a temporary distraction. Although substance use can provide short-term relief, it can reduce your ability to concentrate, be productive at work, and stay grounded in general. In place of your ability to focus, adding substance use to a stress problem can also cause increased emotional numbness, social isolation, anger, irritability, and depression.

Health Problems Caused by Traumatic Stress

Research suggests that up to 50% of people who abuse alcohol and have PTSD also have one or more serious psychological or physical problems. People with PTSD who abuse substances often deal with some degree of anxiety symptoms like panic attacks or phobias, accompanied by worry and impending doom. On the physical side, this same population is more likely to struggle with diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Some may even suffer from physical pain.

The anxiety that accompanies PTSD can put you in a state of constant stress. This can add up to a huge strain on a person’s body, increasing their risk of developing physical health problems. PTSD itself is also linked to additional physical health problems like arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory and digestive issues. Whether your symptoms are physical or mental, it is crucial to seek help right away for PTSD and substance abuse.

Understanding Your Triggers

The triggers of PTSD usually fall into two categories: internal and external. Internal triggers come from within your body and are things that you experience inside your mind. External triggers can come from people, places, or situations. As you begin to understand the origin of your trauma and its effect on you, you will develop better chances of combating your symptoms. Here are some of the most common internal and external triggers:

Internal Triggers

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling abandoned
  • Feeling lonely
  • Feeling out of control
  • Feeling vulnerable
  • Frustration
  • Memories
  • Muscle tension
  • Pain
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sadness

External Triggers

  • The anniversary of a significant date
  • An argument
  • Certain smells
  • The end of a relationship
  • Holidays
  • Reading a news article that reminds you of your traumatic event
  • Seeing someone who reminds you of a person connected to your traumatic event
  • Seeing, visiting, or hearing about a specific place
  • Watching a movie or television show that reminds you of your traumatic event
  • Witnessing a car accident

Becoming Aware of Your Triggers

When you live with PTSD, potential triggers can be all around you. It can even seem like your symptoms appear out of the blue. In reality, PTSD symptoms are not random or spontaneous at all. Your triggers may be coming from within your subconscious in response to thoughts or feelings you’re not even fully aware of.

Whether it’s the memory of a traumatic event, accumulated feelings of anxiety, or other circumstances that precede your symptoms, take note of what leads to your reactions. Gaining awareness of your triggers is one of the first steps you can take towards managing and coping with your symptoms. You can lessen or prevent the impact of some PTSD symptoms by identifying the thoughts, feelings, and situations that may be triggering them.

Coping with Traumatic Stress Triggers

The most effective way to cope with triggers is to avoid them completely. In most cases, this may be virtually impossible, especially regarding internal triggers. You are rarely in complete control of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. However, when it comes to external triggers, you can do your best to avoid specific people or places that you know will trigger you.

When you are met with your triggers, it helps to be prepared with coping mechanisms that work best for you. Deep breathing, writing, grounding, and relaxation are all great ways to cope. Figure out how to self-soothe, whether by reading a book, taking a hot bath, or receiving a massage. You can always look to your support system of friends and family for assistance, as well as professional resources for managing PTSD.

Trauma can have a major impact on your mental and physical health. Without treatment, trauma and PTSD can lead to substance abuse, anxiety, and depression, and physical health problems like heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and arthritis. If you or a loved one have had a traumatic experience, it is important to seek out proper help. Located in scenic Ft. Myers, Florida, The Kimberly Center welcomes you to take the time and space to open up with a professional about what you’ve gone through. If your PTSD has led to substance abuse, depression, or other co-occurring disorders, we offer dedicated treatment to get you back on your feet. We provide every level of care, from residential treatment to continuing care and virtual services. Don’t let trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, or addiction cast a shadow over your life any longer. Reach out to The Kimberly Center at (855) 452-3683 to learn more about how we can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *