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Living with “trauma” as it might be referred to as a whole, can be described as a disease of the nervous system. Post-traumatic stress disorder does not happen to everyone who experiences trauma. However, many of the people who do experience trauma experience symptoms of PTSD that manifest in different ways. Whether someone has fully diagnosable PTSD or they have various symptoms of PTSD, they have been affected in their nervous system.

The nervous system runs throughout the entire body carrying messages and signals to the brain. Comprised of a complex system of nerves and cells, the nervous system runs through the brain, the spinal cord, and each part of the body. Included in the nervous system are the Central nervous system and the Peripheral nervous system. When people who are living with trauma turn to drug and alcohol abuse, they might pick up “Central Nervous System Stimulants” or “Central Nervous System Depressants” which quickly influence the brain and spinal cord. The Peripheral nervous system includes both the Somatic and Autonomic nervous systems. Within the Autonomic nervous system are two key systems in the body when it comes to trauma: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

Activated by traumatic triggers, our nervous system lights up and goes into overdrive, excitedly sending mixed signals from our body to our spine to our brain and back again. We experience physical sensations on our skin, in our muscles, our involuntary responses systems, and our organs.

Trauma tweaks the nervous system and all of its operations. Learning about how trauma interferes with the nervous system informs us of how to take care of our mind, our body, and our spirit to try and correct the path of the nervous system as much as possible. When we recognize our patterns of behavior and reaction, we can know that we are acting from our nervous system. Promptly taking action to create safety and relaxation, we can counteract our chemical impulses. Proven evidence-based practices like mindfulness and meditation help activate the nervous system in a positive way that contributes to calmness.