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The Connection Between Trauma and Metabolism

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Trauma is a profoundly distressing emotional response to disturbing events that overwhelm an individual. It undeniably impacts physical and mental health, whether you experience trauma as a child or an adult. Childhood trauma is complicated to deal with as it can lead to lifelong health problems ranging from depression to urinary diseases. Trauma can also be hereditary. In this type of inheritance, sperm and egg cells pass on information to their offspring. However, it does not occur through their DNA sequence, which occurs in classical genetic heredity. Instead, it happens through biological factors involving the epigenome, which regulates genome activity. 

Metabolism refers to the organic process in any cellular structure. A metabolic response can happen to individual cells, a gland, or an organ or can affect the function of the cardiovascular system. Trauma causes a variety of endocrine, metabolic, and immunological changes. The severity of these changes is proportional to the amount of stress exposure. For example, post-traumatic stress reactions get influenced by stress hormones and the release of cytokines. 

One can improve metabolic health using HealthifyPro 2.0. by one of the country’s leading digital health and wellness platforms, HealthifyMe. It is a CGM- based technology that contains a wearable device called BIOS. The BIOS measures your real-time blood glucose levels in response to food intake and activity levels and nudges you to make correct dietary and lifestyle choices. 

Metabolism is the process by which our cells convert food into fuel to power our bodies. Studies state that the more stress there is, the more catabolic reactions and impacts there are. The main issue in these reactions and subsequent metabolic status is the reduction of insulin’s expected anabolic effects, i.e., the development of insulin resistance. 

While we may consider the process purely physiological, you can also link it to our psychology and history. For example, early life trauma and repeated stress over time can harm our metabolic health. And the consequences may be passed down generations.

The HealthifyMe Note

Trauma results from events or incidents that cause physical or emotional distress. Individual needs support, time, and mental stability to recover from traumatic events. The association between trauma and metabolic response is well recognised. Some of the most common metabolic changes associated with trauma include sympathetic hormonal activation, hyperglycemia, hyperlactatemia, increased liver enzymes, activation of the coagulation cascade, and systemic inflammatory response syndrome.

Understanding Trauma

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is “an emotional reaction to a terrible event such as an accident or natural disaster”. Trauma can also occur as a result of an event that a person perceives as physically or emotionally threatening. 

The following are the potential sources of trauma: 

  • Bullying or harassment
  • Abuse: Physical, Psychological or Sexual
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Traffic Collisions
  • Life-threatening illnesses during childbirth
  • Unexpected death of a loved one
  • Being attacked or kidnapped.
  • Natural calamities
  • War

Traumatic events can be isolated or recurring and ongoing. A person can also be traumatised after witnessing something distressing happen to another person. People react differently to traumatic events. For example, those living through a natural disaster may react differently despite seeing the same event unfold.

Psychological Trauma

Psychological trauma is a person’s reaction to a highly stressful event. Trauma can occur due to an experience of a person or a more significant nature like a natural disaster. Trauma can result in a variety of physical and emotional symptoms. There are also different types of trauma. Some people will experience short-term symptoms, while others will experience long-term consequences.

Childhood Trauma

Children, according to research, are especially vulnerable to trauma because their brains are still developing. During traumatic events, children’s stress levels rise, and their bodies release hormones associated with stress and fear. This type of developmental trauma has the potential to disrupt normal brain development. As a result, ongoing trauma can impact a child’s emotional development, mental health, physical health, and behaviour. The fear and helplessness associated with the trauma may even spill over into adulthood. It puts the person at a much higher risk of experiencing the effects of future trauma.

The link between trauma, metabolic response, and mortality is clear. Tachycardia, an increase in the use of oxygen, which leads to a rise in respiratory rate, body temperature, and negative nitrogen balance, i.e., catabolism, are all trauma symptoms. 

Most of us face several minor stress on a daily basis. Our bodies are designed to handle them. However, at some point in our lives, we might face bigger traumas or periods of chronic stress. Even if you did not face adversity as a child, the stress in adulthood can accumulate and negatively impact your metabolic health. 

Studies state that neuroendocrine changes, sympathetic hormonal activation, hyperglycemia, hyperlactatemia, increased liver enzymes, coagulation cascade activation, and systemic inflammatory response syndrome are the most common metabolic changes associated with trauma. Therefore, understanding these metabolic changes is critical for the proper management and successful recovery from traumatic experiences. 

Trauma May Affect The Health of The Offspring

Early trauma affects mental and physical health in adulthood and across generations, as evidenced by changes in lipid metabolism and glucose levels.

Several treatments can help trauma victims cope with their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Therapy is the first line of defence against trauma, which includes cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). In addition, there are various medications for the treatment of trauma.  

The HealthifyMe Note

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can combat traumatic symptoms and assist in fast recovery. For example, healthy eating, regular physical activity, quality sleep, managing stress by speaking with a therapist or psychologist, proper nutrition, socialising, and limiting substances such as alcohol and caffeine can assist in quick recovery. In addition, recovery requires good mental health and a lack of stress. Community support groups provide trauma survivors with a stress-free environment and good mental health.

Treatment

Several treatments can assist people suffering from trauma in coping with their symptoms and improving their quality of life.

Therapy

The first line of defence against trauma is therapy. Individuals should ideally work with a therapist who is trauma-informed or trauma-focused. A person suffering from trauma may benefit from the following types of treatment:

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) assists people in changing their thought patterns to influence their behaviour and emotions. According to the evidence, CBT is the most effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Eye Movement Desensitising and Reprocessing 

Another standard trauma therapy is eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing, or EMDR. Individuals undergo EMDR by briefly reliving specific traumatic experiences while the therapist directs their eye movements. The goal of EMDR is to assist people in processing and integrating traumatic memories. EMDR has been shown in several research prospects to be an effective treatment for PTSD.

Medications 

There are various medications for the treatment of trauma. Grouped in a category called post-traumatic stress disorder. Medications cannot cure trauma or PTSD but can help people manage symptoms like anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Self-care can assist people in dealing with trauma’s emotional, psychological, and physical effects. 

Examples of trauma self-care include:

  • Trauma can trigger the fight-or-flight response in the body. However, some of these effects may get mitigated by exercise.
  • Mindful breathing and other mindfulness-based exercises can help people stay in the present moment and avoid reliving traumatic events.
  • Withdrawal from others is a common trauma symptom. Connecting with friends and family, on the other hand, is essential. If discussing the trauma with others is too difficult, avoid doing so. Simply interacting with others can boost one’s mood and well-being..

A Balanced Lifestyle

According to studies, a common misconception is that trauma—”injury” to the mind, body, and spirit—affects only those who have faced death threats, sexual violence, or severe injury. The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus and the widespread disruption, anxiety, and stress it caused, have demonstrated that this is not the case; trauma is universal.  Furthermore, it shed light on the fact that trauma, if not addressed, can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. People facing trauma can try practising the following tips

Eating Healthy

Recognising that taste and smell can be altered in people with trauma is essential when encouraging healthy eating. Setting reminders for when to eat throughout the day can also help those who suffer from memory loss.

Physical Exercise

It is critical for people with trauma to work with a physician or physical therapist to find safe exercise methods. Although 150 minutes of physical activity per week is necessary, it is critical to begin at a slow, steady, and safe pace.

Sleep 

Approximately 60% of people with traumatic experiences face difficulty in sleeping. If sleep is a problem for people with trauma, they should consult their doctor. It is also best to limit caffeine and alcohol before bed. 

Stress

Stress management can be complex with any abrupt change in lifestyle, such as a traumatic brain injury. One way to help is to be open about your stress with those around you. In addition, speaking with a therapist or psychologist may be beneficial if your stress persists.

Socialisation and Participation

People who participate in their communities and socialise with others are happier, have a higher quality of life and are less likely to be overweight. Community support groups for people who suffer trauma are a great way to connect with others who have suffered similar injuries and can also help with stress management.

Use of Substances

Substance abuse can hinder recovery and increase the risk of another brain injury in people who have experienced trauma. Therefore, it is critical to abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Proper Nutrition

Consume a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and protein. Proper nutrition can impact everything from how your body works to how your brain works. So fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits, get plenty of lean protein, and avoid processed sugars.

Try to Keep Your Mental Health in Check

Planning what you need to do throughout the day can help you stay on track and motivated. Setting short-term and long-term goals can help you plan what you’re doing and where you’re going. Try outlining one or two primary life objectives. Make time to do at least one thing that brings you joy daily. They can include engaging in a hobby, socialising with friends, spending time with family, or doing anything else that allows you to disconnect from the day’s stresses. Mental development and stimulation are critical components of maintaining mental health.

Conclusion

People with persistent or severe trauma symptoms should seek help from a mental health professional. Seeking help is especially important if the trauma symptoms interfere with daily functioning or interpersonal relationships. Even those with minor signs can feel better after speaking with someone. People can seek assistance from others if necessary. For example, they can try talking to trusted loved ones or joining a trauma survivor support group. It is never too late to resolve mental, emotional, and spiritual conflicts to live a more complete, richer, and integrated life.

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