The intricate link between trauma and chronic illness

Uncategorized Aug 24, 2023

The mind and body are intricately connected, influencing each other in ways that western science is only beginning to understand.  But this is a far from new concept and one that is essential to understand if you are interested in healing from chronic illness.  In this blog post I want to bring to light some of the ways that our emotional wounds can manifest into physical illness and dis - ease.

The Stress Response and it's Effects

The first thing that is important to understand is that when the body experiences trauma, the stress response system becomes activated.  This triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, preparing the body for a fight or flight response.  While this response is crucial for survival in the short term, chronic activation of the stress response can have detrimental effects on various systems within the body.

The Immune System and Inflammation

Prolonged stress and trauma can lead to a dysregulated nervous system which causes inflammation in the body.  We know that inflammation is behind a wide range of chronic health issues including autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease and eve certain types of cancer.  Research has shown that traumatic experiences can alter immune responses potentially contributing to the development of these conditions.

The Nervous Systems role

The autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntarily bodily functions plays a critical role in the connection between trauma and chronic illness.  Trauma can disrupt the balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) branches of this system and the body ends up living in a chronic state of fight or flight where the body is unable to effectively heal.

The Mind Body Connection

The mind body connection is such a fascinating aspect of the trauma - chronic illness link.  Trauma can rewire the brain, influencing neural pathways and brain regions associated with stress and emotional regulation.  These changes in turn influence bodily functions and contribute to the development of chronic conditions.

Breaking the Cycle

Recognising the connection between trauma and chronic illness is the first step towards breaking the cycle.  Healing from trauma can then take place consciously through a combination of practices and approaches.  One of my favourite tools for gently resetting and rewiring the nervous system and healing the body from chronic illness and the effects of trauma is Breathwork.

This is a beautiful modality that can quickly and effectively target the nervous system.  I have used it to great effect over the last 6 years to support me in my healing journey from over 70 food intolerances and post covid anxiety.

If you would like to give Breathwork a go, please check out details for my next class as I would love to see you there!

 

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