Here’s the Problem
Even though we are immobilized, our nervous system is still highly aroused. Since we have been unable to discharge any of the fight-or-flight energy that our body has mobilized, we are left us in a state like that of a car whose accelerator and brakes are being floored at the same time. It is impossible to complete the arousal cycle if one can't move! Animals who survive an attack by using the freezing response simply allow for the biological discharge of excess energy and completion of the arousal cycle. Instinctively, animals tremble in a way that restores spontaneous breathing and allows the nervous system to regain its balance.
Watch video of polar bear discharging fight/flight energy
You’ve seen dogs shake and heard the coach say shake it off , right? Unfortunately, we humans have a much harder time actually shaking it off . This for difficult for human beings because the intensity of survival energy frightens us, and we are not comfortable giving in to involuntary (unconscious) sensations. Unfortunately, our rational brains often override this physiological completion process. When this happens, the nervous system remains in a state of arousal. Even if the threat is gone, the brain and body continue responding- spewing out the fight-or-flight chemicals.
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Clusters of Trauma Symptoms in Chronological Order (more or less)
First Set of Symptoms...
Extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Heightened startle reactions.
Increased Physiological Arousal, i.e. increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, cold sweats, tingling, increased muscular tension intrusive imagery or flashbacks
Nightmares and night terrors.
Affect dysregulation: abrupt mood swings.
Reduced ability to deal with stress.
Racing thoughts and worry.
Avoiding certain circumstances that remind us of previous traumas.
Exaggerated or diminished sexual activity.
Abrupt mood swings.
Frequent anger or crying.
Attraction to dangerous situations.
Fear of dying or having a shortened life.
Feelings of helplessness.
Avoidance of loved ones.
Chronic fatigue, very low physical energy.
Immune system and certain endocrine problems.
Neck and back problems.
Irritable bowel syndrome.
Blunted emotional responses.
Feelings of impending doom (waiting for the other shoe to drop).
Inability to make commitments.
Disconnection from others (feeling different, not like other people).
Feelings of detachment and alienation.