The levels of stress hormones in individuals who have gone through trauma, even well after the experience itself is over, is much higher than normal. The presence of these hormones leaves the individual hyperreactive, sending a neurological and biochemical signal throughout the body that keeps them feeling agitated or immobilized, like a bunny cornered in a cave with a wolf at the entrance. They may find themselves in a cyclical response of hyperarousal followed by hypoarousal, where they shut down to deal with the overwhelming affective and bodily sensations they are experiencing. Their fight/flight/freeze response is always active. The individual may erupt unexpectedly over a small, insignificant slight, or they may freeze at the smallest confrontation or disagreement. Either way, their response is out of proportion to the current situation; instead, it is a response appropriate to threat of death. These responses impact the individual in every way, including physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially.
Dr. Donna E. Lane is a Christian Counselor who specializes in trauma, grief, and loss, along with the depression and anxiety often resulting from these experiences. She has been a counselor since 1979, and has owned her practice since 1993. She is co-author of the internationally-acclaimed trauma treatment resource, Trauma Narrative Treatment, and the accompanying story, Gold Stone. She is also the co-author of Strength in Adversity, a Biblical study on walking through difficulty with Christ.