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When a person experiences a trauma, there is an association made and stored in the brain related to the traumatic event.  This is often due to the sensory perceptions of the trauma.  For example, if a person is involved in a car accident, the person uses multiple sensory inputs including sight, smell, or hearing.  These sensations are stored in the neural pathways of the brain and do not go away.  The brain can retain these sensory perceptions regardless of whether the trauma was chronic or acute.  If the trauma is left untreated, one can experience nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, depression, phobias, substance abuse, panic attacks, anger, irritability, or hopelessness.  The individual might also begin to have physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal distress, rapid heartbeat, or extreme fatigue.  These symptoms can manifest immediately following the traumatic event or they can present years following the traumatic event.

If the trauma is not treated, emotional responses and symptoms will continue until the trauma is treated and worked through with therapy and emotional support.  It is important to note that not all individuals experience trauma in the same way and how the trauma manifests is as individual as the person who experienced the trauma.  There are events that happen to us each day that are considered non-traumatic.  These events can include an altercation with a superior at work or unexpected car trouble, which will not require treatment and may diminish over time.  A person will effectively work with their superior to overcome work issues or the unexpected car trouble will be resolved through a good mechanic.  For some, even an altercation with a superior or unexpected car trouble can become a larger issue.  If the car was fixed by a good mechanic and there are seemingly no other issues with the car, a person can still relive the event and experience panic attacks upon thinking about driving to work.  When these experiences become overwhelming, the person may begin to exhibit greater emotional responses to the trauma such as anxiety, depression, or the inability to cope with life in general.

Regardless of the extent of the trauma, untreated trauma will manifest in physical, psychological, emotional, and social problems.  Many individuals will find that alcohol and drugsrelieve the symptoms experienced, however, over time this could develop into more serious and detrimental issues.  Untreated trauma will not go away on its own nor will the symptoms simply diminish over time.  When a person perceives an event as traumatic, the individual should seek help from the therapeutic community.