Symptoms of Overwhelm or Traumatic Stress
Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the ”triggering” event itself. They stem from the leftover survival energy that has not been resolved and discharged due to a disturbance in the self-regulatory capacity of our autonomic nervous system and physiology.

Each time we are not able to return to a relaxed ‘normal’ state our nervous system becomes more hypersensitive or unresponsive and we are more likely to be affected by events, actions or experiences that previously may not have had an impact. Over time, after months or years, symptoms of the following types may arise:

  • Heart palpitations, breathing problems, dizziness
  • Hyper vigilance, being on guard or over alert
  • Hyperactivity
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, sound or touch
  • Involuntary behaviour: tics, jerking limbs
  • Anxiety, including chronic low level anxiety
  • Panic attacks and phobias
  • Fears and terrors
  • Flash backs and intrusive memories or images
  • Overwhelming emotional responses such as shame, anger, depression
  • Insomnia, poor sleep, nightmares, night terrors
  • Psychosomatic illnesses, particularly some headaches, migraines, neck and back problems
  • Muscle weakness, muscle pain e.g. fibromyalgia, myofasical pain
  • Menstrual problems
  • Digestive problems, e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon
  • Immune system problems
  • Skin disorders
  • Environmental sensitivities
  • Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion
  • Mood swings, shame, depression, rage, aggression, lack of self worth, easily irritated
  • Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness
  • Mental ‘blankness’ or spaced-out feelings
  • Amnesia, forgetfulness
  • Indecisiveness and feelings of overwhelm
  • Attraction to dangerous situations or people
  • Addictive behaviour: smoking, alcohol dependency, drug abuse
  • Avoidance behaviour: avoiding places, activities, memories, situations or people
  • Attachment difficulties in nurturing, bonding or committing to others or receiving from others

As SE works directly with the neurophysiology of the body to help regulate the nervous system and its effects on the endocrine and immune systems, these symptoms can gradually be reduced.

Dr. Peter Levine: ADHD in Relation to Trauma

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Therapy may be most effective if it facilitates self-awareness and self-regulation.
Bessel van der Kolk