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Trauma isn’t something that just happens to us but something that happens within us, changing the structure and functioning of our brain. Trauma affects many areas of the brain. Two of the primary areas of the brain affected by trauma, which result in common symptoms of trauma, are the amygdala and the hippocampus.

The Amygdala

There are actually two amygdalae in the brain, located near the hippocampus. A small, almond shaped portion of the brain, the amygdala can be found in the frontal part of the temporal lobe. Trauma can be called a disorder of the central nervous system, which works with the amygdala to regulate the fight or flight response. The amygdala is the area of the brain responsible for threat management. When the amygdala senses a threat, it becomes active, setting off the production of fight or flight stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Threat detection means that the amygdala is hyperactive. Trauma creates a constant sense of being threatened or unsafe, meaning the amygdala is chronically active.

People living with symptoms of trauma can feel anxious, on edge, frightened, or like they are anticipating another traumatic event. Often, this is manifested in what is called hypervigilance. Wild-eyed and primal, trauma survivors are heightened in their detection of anything which could resemble threat.

The Hippocampus

Hidden within layers of the brain is the hippocampus, located within the medial temporal lobe. Memories are processed through the hippocampus and placed in the proper memory storage areas of the brain. Memories should go through the hippocampus, then be sorted. Some memories stay short term as working memories and only fragments go to long term storage. Other memories go straight to long term storage and leave working memory, meaning, they’re essentially ‘forgotten’ until they need to be remembered.

Trauma affects the hippocampus by causing it to slow down. Overloaded by the complexity and shock of trauma, the hippocampus slows down, unable to process all of the new information for memory. As a result, fewer parts of a traumatic event get moved to long term storage in the brain. People living with symptoms of trauma can feel like they are living a bit of a “groundhog’s day” in their mind. Their trauma has recency and realistic memory recall, as if it just happened or is happening over and over. Unfortunately, since trauma is traumatic, the constant memory recall is intrusive and upsetting. The new experience of re-experiencing the trauma just adds to the backup of memory processing in the hippocampus, worsening the cycle.

We’re proud to call Florida our home state. At The Guest House Ocala, everyone with an experience of trauma is welcomed to our estate to heal in mind, body, and spirit. Our treatment programs are customized on a concierge level of care. Each client’s treatment program is tailor fit to their specific needs and experiences. For information on life at the estate or our approach to trauma care, call us today: 1-855-483-7800