How is trauma stored in our bodies?

How is trauma stored in our bodies?

In a regulated, more moderate stress response, the stress chemicals and hormones are counterbalanced and then return to normal levels.  A person will feel a rise of stress, and return to baseline after an appropriate time.

In a PTSD stress response, the stress chemicals and hormones are NOT counterbalanced; they do not return to normal levels, and are reabsorbed into the body. The person feels the rise of stress but does not return to baseline in an appropriate amount of time.

This inability to return to baseline may cause a variety of physical reactions in your body depending on the stress event, what happens afterwards, your past history, your sense of wholeness, etc. 


Here are a few examples of physical responses to extended periods of stress:

  • Chronically heightened levels of cortisol and other stress hormones
  • Our tissues (muscular and fascia) hold the memories of the trauma through cellular memory.
  • Lowered immune response to fend off illnesses
  • Alterations in brain chemistry such as:
  • Reduced hippocampus function — this is the center for emotion and memory
  • The amygdala function increases — the center for creativity and rumination
  • The prefrontal/ anterior cingulate function decreases — the center for more complex functions  

Your body may also develop a stronger “fight flight or freeze” responses which then become patterns. This might look like:

Fight – Anger and Rage

Flight – Desire to run away (physically and metaphorically through use of chemicals)

Freeze – Paralyzed with fear, unable to move or act or speak


Trauma is scattered throughout the brain instead of being safely stored in the long term memory bank.  This leads to being “triggered”. Energetically, once we have become stuck in the trauma pattern, we may attract similar situations that will mirror the trauma pattern until it can be broken.