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The Lasting Effects of Trauma

Trauma knows no bounds, coming in all forms and affecting all different types of people. When traumatic situations initially happen, they can be devastating. The lasting effects of trauma, however, can continue popping up throughout a person’s entire life.

Long-Term Effects of Trauma

When a traumatic event or disaster occurs, there can be immediate devastation. Unfortunately, the effects of trauma often go far beyond this initial event.

According to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), life “may not return to normal for months, or even years, following a disaster or traumatic event.” Trauma can have “far-reaching effects” in all areas of your life, making it difficult to rebuild yourself emotionally.

Trauma can also cause changes in your day-to-day reality that make life unfamiliar. Living situations, strains in relationships, and even shifts in responsibilities can cause unpredictable disruption.

Physical Effects of Trauma

When people think of trauma’s effects, the mental health disorder post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often comes to mind, but trauma can affect a person physically as well. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 57, some people who have experienced traumatic stress ”may present initially with physical symptoms.” There is even a strong link between trauma and chronic health conditions.

Other lasting physical effects of trauma may include symptoms like:

  • Sleep issues
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Substance use disorders
  • Cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and even dermatological disorders

Mental Health

SAMHSA’s TIP 57 mentions that exposure to trauma can lead to “a cascade of biological changes and stress responses” that are “highly associated with PTSD, other mental illnesses, and substance use disorders.” Childhood exposure to abuse, neglect, and other traumatic experiences can even alter brain development. This can lead to educational problems and mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even dissociation.


According to the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), many people who have experienced trauma “turn to alcohol or drugs to help them deal with emotional pain, bad memories, poor sleep, guilt, shame, anxiety or terror.” It’s also common for those experiencing substance use disorder (SUD) to find themselves in dangerous and frightening situations. The ISTSS calls this a vicious cycle in which “exposure to traumatic events produces increased alcohol and drug use, which produces new traumatic event experiences, which leads to even worse substance use, and so forth.”

Effects of Trauma in the Body

Over the last few decades, more and more studies have found that trauma can actually be stored as energy in the body. According to the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, trauma is “stored in somatic memory” expressed as “changes in the biological stress response.”

When a traumatic event occurs, intense emotions cause high levels of cortisol to be released throughout the body. These cortisol levels can continue on for the long term and live as energy in the body, whether or not you actually remember the traumatic event. Brain Sciences refers to negative bodily experiences of the past as “negative body memories.” These memories can contribute to the development of mental health problems, somatic symptoms, dissociation, or even traumatic re-experiencing of the event.

Somatic Experiencing

Over the past 45 years, Dr. Peter Levine developed a novel form of trauma therapy called somatic experiencing (SE). According to a 2015 study in Frontiers in Psychology, SE focuses on “resolving the symptoms of chronic stress and post-traumatic stress” by directing an individual’s attention to internal body sensations.

SE is a form of body awareness that’s meant to process traumatic memory and energy through the body. Instead of directly evoking traumatic memories as cognitive behavioral therapy would, SE is meant to help one overcome them gradually. Frontiers in Psychology even notes that SE’s focus on internal awareness is akin to traditional Eastern practices like meditation, T’ai Chi, yoga, and mindfulness. These practices can all be highly effective in healing the body of trauma.

Healing the Effects of Trauma at The Guest House

The fundamental mission of The Guest House is to help you get to the root cause of your struggle with addiction, mental health, self-destructive behavior, or any other debilitating conditions. We believe this root is often caused by a traumatic memory or event. Our cutting-edge therapies combine traditional and holistic care to help you overcome trauma in the mind, body, and soul.

Healing the Body

As a trauma-specific care center, somatic therapy principles are integral to our program at The Guest House. The lasting effects of traumatic energy can linger in the body, but they can be healed with focused, intentional movement and strong body awareness.

Our somatic therapy program is one of the most effective modalities for healing traumatic body memories. Highly-trained staff will guide you through light body movements, including massage, stretching, and exercise. Other body-focused therapies at The Guest House include meditation, yoga, and music in healing. Each of these modalities will help you gently process trauma so you can release it from the mind, body, and soul as one,

Comprehensive Care

At The Guest House, our mission is to provide each and every guest with a completely individualized experience. Our wide range of holistic modalities is combined with tried-and-true talk therapy and clinical care to ensure a well-rounded plan for everyone. No matter what you may be struggling with, you can rest assured knowing that The Guest House will have whatever you need. Long-lasting sobriety, joy, and happiness are all possible at The Guest House.

The long-lasting effects of trauma can show up in your daily life, leading to self-destructive behaviors like addiction and poor mental health. Traumatic events can shake someone to their core and even leave an imprint on their body for the long term. At The Guest House, you will find effective trauma-specific care that includes a wide variety of methods to help you heal trauma from your body, as well as your mind and soul. Modalities like somatic therapy end exercise can help you release traumatic energy in the body, allowing you to come back to a peaceful state within yourself. For more information on our trauma-specific approach, call us today at (855) 483-7800.