Are you a woman who's been told that your symptoms are “just” anxiety? When doctors can't find the biological cause of symptoms like dizziness and back pain, they often blame it on mental health. The message these women take away is that their symptoms are not accurate or physical – instead, all in their head.
This is a harmful, stigmatizing narrative. We need to educate women about the psychological and physiological roots of their symptoms: adverse childhood experiences or trauma later in life can lead to physical disease.
1.) Adverse Experiences and Nervous System Dysregulation
When you experience trauma or adverse childhood experiences, your nervous system can become chronically dysregulated. The nervous system remembers and continues to reactivate the emotional pain of trauma, even when you're not in a traumatic situation.
Your nervous system picks up on cues from your environment and your body to determine how you should feel. Trauma or adverse events can cause the nervous system to become hyperactive and overresponsive.
This can lead to a nervous system stuck in chronic states of fight, flight, or shutdown.
2. The Signs of Nervous System Dysregulation
The nervous system is responsible for regulating the body's systems and functions: breathing, digestion, heart rate – even emotions.
When your nervous system is dysregulated, it can lead to physical symptoms such as dizziness and pain. This does not mean that these symptoms are “just” anxiety.
The body's warning signs of a dysregulated nervous system are:
- A racing heart, feelings of dread or panic, chest tightness, digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Sleep problems like insomnia and night terrors.
- Chronic fatigue.
3. Effects of a Chronically Dysregulated Nervous System
Long-term dysregulation of the nervous system can lead to chronic stress on the body, leading to chronic pain and disease.
- Chronic pain and inflammation due to the continual release of the stress hormone cortisol
- Weight gain or difficulty maintaining weight because your body holds on to sugars as energy when under constant stress
- Difficulty sleeping because your body doesn't know how to down-regulate when you are in a state of chronic stress
- Depression and anxiety due to continual activation of the fight, flight, or freeze response.
Is your nervous system dysregulated?
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, your nervous system may be chronically dysregulated.
And you're not alone:
- 40% of women report difficulty maintaining weight
- 70% of women experience depression or anxiety
- 90% have experienced trauma in their lifetime
If you're curious to find out if your symptoms could be related to the health of your nervous system, take our FREE nervous system profile: