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Feeling ‘on edge’

Making sense of trauma - 5

1 min read

Feeling on edge or on high alert is also a common response to trauma. This can include feeling jumpy, jittery, shaky, easily startled, or having trouble concentrating or sleeping.

  • Feeling constantly on guard. When your nervous system experiences a traumatic event, your internal alarm system goes off. This is due to the fight, flight or freeze response in your body and brain. The fight, flight or freeze response is the way we protect ourselves against danger. The same response system can also be seen in animals. When we protect ourselves from danger by fighting, running away or freezing, we need a lot more energy than usual, so our bodies pump out extra adrenalin to help us get the extra energy we need to survive.

 

  • Feeling in danger everywhere. When your nervous system is on high alert it will be on the look-out for any signs of danger and will be ready to respond immediately to any attack. The problem is that our internal alarm system is very useful in dangerous situations, such as facing a tiger, but is very unhelpful when it continues to go off long after the trauma has ended, giving false alarms when you’re in safe situations.

 

  • Finding it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. When your brain and body are on high alert it can be hard to settle down for a sleep. If your brain is constantly looking out for danger, your body won’t let you become vulnerable by falling sleep.

 

  • Loss of interest in sex. Many people find it difficult to feel sexual or have sexual relationships following trauma experiences. This is especially true for people who’ve been sexually assaulted, as sex itself is a reminder of the trauma.

This is a series of articles covering trauma reactions including: re-experiencing of the trauma; avoiding things relating to or reminding you of the trauma; emotional reactions; changes in how you perceive yourself, others and the world; and increased use of alcohol or other substances.

 

This is a series of articles covering trauma reactions including: re-experiencing of the trauma; avoiding things relating to or reminding you of the trauma; emotional reactions; changes in how you perceive yourself, others and the world; and increased use of alcohol or other substances.

 

 

 

 

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