Unfortunately, as well as psychological effects, if we have developed complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) as a result of our childhood experiences (click here to read my article on the difference between PTSD and CPTSD), the condition can also give rise to adverse physical effects (i.e. bodily/somatic effects).
The main reason for this is that, as sufferers of CPTSD, we tend to be chronically locked into a state of distressing hyper-arousal (which psychologists often refer to as the fight/flight state – click here to read my article on this).
Essentially, this means that our SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM becomes CHRONICALLY OVER-ACTIVATED, which, in turn, can lead to harmful bodily processes resulting in, for example :
– over-production of ADRENALINE (a hormone that is produced by the body when we perceive ourselves to be in danger, preparing us for ‘fight or flight’)
– disrupted sleep (which can have a deleterious effect on our physical health).
– stomach disorders (due to a tightened digestive tract)
– excessive muscle tension
– shallow / rapid breathing (causing us to take in too much CO2 (carbon dioxide) and not enough O (oxygen) – this can cause panic attacks
– a general inability to relax leading to unhealthy ‘self-medication’ such as excessive drinking, smoking, over-eating, use of narcotics
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
There are various strategies we can use to help manage this problem, including :
– stretching exercises
– self-hypnosis for relaxation
The above therapies are likely to be more effective if combined with other therapies that address the root of the problem (i.e. adverse childhood experiences). In relation to this, the following may be considered :
– DIALECTICAL BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (DBT) – click here to read my article on this
– EYE MOVEMENT DESENSITISATION AND REPROCESSING THERAPY (EMDR) – click here to read my article on this.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).