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Letting Go of the Past: 9 Physical Signs Your Body Is Holding Trauma

adhd and social anxiety

According to the National Center for PTSD, around 50% of women and 60% of men will experience at least one trauma over the course of their lives. Trauma can have a profound impact on your mind and body. You may hold onto the memory of the trauma long after the initial event has occurred. 

When left untreated, over time this trauma can manifest in other ways such as ADHD and social anxiety. Healing from trauma is possible if you know the physical signs to look for and how to get help.

To start your journey to releasing trauma and achieving better mental health, keep reading to learn more about the 9 most common physical signs of trauma below.

1. Muscle Tension and Pain

Pain and muscle tension aren’t only caused by physical injury. They are also the body’s response to stress and other environmental factors. Stress and trauma can increase the hormone cortisol in the body which leads to pain and inflammation. 

Someone healing from trauma may frequently be tensed up and on guard due to ADHD and social anxiety. They will be unable to relax and their muscles will become tense as a response to triggering stimuli relating to their trauma such as large crowds and loud noises. Prolonged muscle tension can also lead to an increase in pain in the body. 

2. Frequent Headaches and Migraines

Individuals healing from trauma may also experience frequent headaches or migraines. For those with ADHD and social anxiety, trauma can exacerbate headache symptoms even more. A study found that just one trauma experienced in childhood could increase the risk of a headache disorder in adulthood by as much as 48%.

Stress headaches may be common for both conditions due to a persistent cognitive and emotional load compacted by trauma. For instance, the heightened mental activity that comes with ADHD can contribute to more frequent headaches. Meanwhile, the anticipatory stress associated with social anxiety can also cause more intense headaches, especially in uncomfortable social situations.  

3. Gastrointestinal Disorders

Stress from trauma can affect the digestive system. It will often lead to symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, or changes in bowel habits. In the case of ADHD and social anxiety, in particular, it is known to be associated with gastrointestinal discomfort. 

Social anxiety can cause feelings of nausea and frequent stomachaches if the individual feels overwhelmed in social situations relating to past trauma. For individuals with ADHD, they may experience digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas due to an altered gut biome. 

4. Insomnia and Sleep Disturbances

When healing from trauma, persons with ADHD and social anxiety can encounter insomnia and other common sleep disturbances. Individuals with ADHD might struggle with racing thoughts. This can make it challenging to wind down at night which leads to insomnia. 

Persistent worry, in combination with trauma, is common when one has social anxiety. At night, the individual may replay every interaction throughout their day in their mind, which may lead to difficulty falling asleep. It can also cause intrusive thoughts and nightmares which can disrupt sleep patterns. 

5. Changes in Appetite

Those with ADHD may eat several very small meals throughout the day or fixate on binging a particular food item that brings them comfort. For individuals with social anxiety relating to trauma, they may have little to no appetite prior to a social event because of stress and nerves. 

It’s important to monitor the signs of someone healing from trauma when it comes to dietary changes. When left unchecked, they can develop into eating disorders such as anorexia or binge eating. Look for signs of sudden weight gain or weight loss.

6. Fatigue

The effects of ADHD and social anxiety from trauma can take their toll on an individual’s energy levels over time. Constantly managing ADHD symptoms or navigating social anxiety can be mentally and emotionally draining, contributing to persistent fatigue.

Sleep disturbances associated with these conditions can also lead to daytime tiredness. Fatigue can have a larger impact on a person’s mental health since they will often feel too exhausted to handle their normal day-to-day tasks effectively. 

7. Hypervigilance

Hypervigilance refers to a heightened state of alertness or awareness. It is most common in individuals experiencing and healing from trauma. While they are considered two separate conditions, there are common links between ADHD and social anxiety.

In both social anxiety and ADHD sufferers, there is already a sense of mental and physical restlessness known as the “fight or flight response.” Hypervigilance can increase feelings of uneasiness which can lead to an inability to sit still or concentrate on certain tasks. It can make those with ADHD act impulsively and affect self-control.

When trauma is involved, a person may be constantly on edge and easily startled. They will often scan their surroundings trying to identify potential threats. In individuals impacted by social anxiety, this can cause them to avoid social situations altogether but a trained anxiety therapist can help find ways to manage these feelings. 

8. Skin Issues

Stress and anxiety, especially resulting from underlying trauma can cause visible changes to your body. Your skin can display some of the most telling signs like eczema, psoriasis, and even hives. These skin conditions can worsen and flare up during periods of intense emotional and physical stress.

9. Cognitive Fog

Individuals experiencing the after-effects of trauma can have memory issues and difficulty concentrating. This cognitive fog can be exacerbated by stress and trauma in those with ADHD or social anxiety. Stress from trauma can impair cognitive function leading to difficulties concentrating or remembering tasks.

Individuals with ADHD may find it challenging to maintain focus. While those with social anxiety might experience cognitive fog during social interactions or put off doing certain tasks and activities. 

Take Control of ADHD and Social Anxiety from Trauma with Therapie Today 

There are many different types of trauma and the symptoms and causes of trauma will vary from person to person. But healing from trauma is possible if you’re willing to take the necessary steps to get there. 

Therapie, located in Nashville, TN, is here for you. We offer individual and couples therapy, as well as weekend intensives and online courses for busy, high-functioning professionals. This allows you to get the support you need on your time to fit your schedule.

Ready to start your journey to better mental health? Contact Therapie to book your free 15-minute consultation today. We offer a variety of therapy options, including LGBTQIA+ affirming therapy.

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Therapist in Nashville, TN

At Therapie, we offer individual and couples therapy, as well as weekend intensives and online courses, so you can get the support you need, when you need it. Our services include: individual counseling, premarital, and couples counseling. If you are working on issues related to work, your relationship or life, we got you.


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