Published on October 25, 2021

7 Ways Our Bodies Manifest Unresolved Trauma

Everyone may have been through certain trauma throughout their lives. It can be from a minor injury, verbal or emotional abuse, losing a loved one, or being involved in an accident. Whether it’s a minor or major traumatic experience, it would always have a physical or psychological effect on a person’s inner spirit. When left untreated, this may lead to certain problems, which could disrupt their future. Unresolved traumas may cause extraordinary stress, addictions, insecurity, anxiety, phobias, or distrust in people. 

Unfortunately, people with unresolved traumas seem to be more common than people who were able to heal from them. Often, these people have difficulties seeking aid or resorting to therapies that could help overcome their traumas. What’s worse, people with unresolved traumas may not do anything to heal from them simply because they don’t know they’ve been traumatized by a past experience. 

How Does Your Body Display Signs Of Unresolved Trauma?

Generally, when a person encounters a traumatic event, their mind tends to block out some or all parts of the event as their way of forgetting or moving on from it. However, the more a person dissociates themselves from the event, the more it could lead to trauma and create devastating problems later. Unresolved traumas may be common, but they’re a serious problem, especially for one’s mental health.  

Thus, it’s important to recognize the obvious and subtle signs of unresolved trauma. This way, you can seek help for yourself or your loved one who needs healing from these past traumatic events. Here are seven ways your body may manifest unresolved traumas, which you need to look out for.  

Nightmares, Body Memories, Or Flashbacks

One of the common physical signs of trauma is when a person keeps on getting repetitive nightmares, body memories, or flashbacks. Usually, these upsetting intrusions could happen at the most unexpected time or when interacting with something or someone that reminds them of the traumatic event. 

Once you’re attacked with these disturbing images, you may then start feeling some unexplained body pains and headaches. These symptoms could last for weeks, months, or even years, depending on how that traumatic event has affected you. 

Maybe you’re wondering, ‘Can the body heal itself?’ Thankfully, it can. However, you need to do your part to help your body elevate the healing process. Physical exercises, healthy diets, and mental exercises (for example, yoga, meditation, and therapy) could help stimulate your body’s natural healing and reduce instances of flashbacks and nightmares.  

Heightened Startle Response

Another subtle but common symptom of unresolved traumas is heightened startle response or the act of being startled easily. While this could happen to people affected by anxiety or stress, this is also linked to posttraumatic symptoms. For instance, if a person survived a traumatic car accident, that person may feel easily startled by traffic noises or vehicle horns. Meanwhile, if a person is a victim of verbal abuse, that person may grow up feeling easily startled by yells, shouts, and crowd noises. 

Addictive Behaviors

People with unresolved traumas often use their addictions to keep those problematic and unhealed emotions at bay. Unfortunately, the more they push these feelings away, the longer it takes for them to heal and the more they’d keep on resorting to these addictive behaviors. Your choice of addiction depends on the type of trauma you’ve experienced. This addiction could be in the form of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, excessive sexual needs, nonstop gambling, and shopping.  

If a person is constantly anxious due to past events, it’s possible they would resort to alcohol or drugs to ease their anxiety. Or if that person was traumatized by parental abuse and constantly deprived of their needs, they might resort to shopping addiction once they become adults.  

Anxiety And Depression

Perhaps the most common posttraumatic symptoms of unresolved trauma are anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression could affect a person mentally, emotionally, and physically. Their bodies would always be at high alert, making them feel constantly anxious about the people and environment around them. Calming down or even the idea of relaxing may be a real struggle and could even cause more anxiety. 

Furthermore, a person who has been traumatized from losing a loved one or by the ending of a relationship or marriage may also sink into depression. They would begin to isolate themselves as the thoughts and memories of the loss would keep on circling on their minds. With the right mental and emotional support from their loved ones, the person may heal from the traumatic event. 

Intense Agitation And Edginess

If you notice someone being easily agitated and troubled over little things, some of you may think they’re overdramatic. For instance, a coworker is endlessly pacing back and forth in their office after failing to submit their work before the deadline. While this may look like a normal reaction to the situation, you could link this back to their previous experience of being overly pressured as a child.  

According to research, people, especially children, who are constantly pressured to be achievers and perfectionists tend to develop depressive symptoms, engage in substance abuse, or experience intense agitation over little things. Pressuring kids may not look like a traumatic event. But this experience would cause these children to suppress their emotions, have low self-confidence, and subscribe to the idea that not achieving or perfecting anything means they’re worthless.  

Obsessive Or Compulsive Behaviors

People who experience physical assault traumas may develop obsessive or compulsive behaviors. For instance, they may repetitively check all the doors and windows around their house in fear that someone might trespass and hurt them. The traumatic experience brought by the physical assault may make them paranoid, hypervigilant, and obsessed about their personal security.  

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are also among the common signs of unresolved trauma. In this case, people use food to escape or numb the negative emotions and thoughts brought about by the traumatic experience. They may either overeat to distract themselves or not eat at all due to a lack of motivation and stress. So whenever you notice someone with eating disorders, make sure to offer your support and see if you can help them heal from whatever’s hunting and hurting them.  


If you have one or more of these symptoms above, you can talk to a therapist and let them help you resolve your trauma. Remember, there are many people out there who have been traumatized in the past but recovered. And most importantly, realize that help and support are always available as long as you reach out.

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