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Has Your Trauma Turned into Autoimmune Disease?

Updated: Aug 21

Would you ever think that experiencing trauma or stress-related illnesses could increase your risk of autoimmune disease by almost 60%?

I certainly wouldn’t like to think that. At all.

But scientists studying the relationship between trauma and autoimmune conditions now know that this is a very real statistic.1

Trauma and stress-related illnesses can have such an effect on our bodies that over time, it can do real damage.

Sometimes we can think that we’re ok, as this stress level has become normal to us. But what is it doing to our insides, being in a constant fight-or-flight mode?

It becomes permanent.

During fight or flight, our body produces cortisol and adrenaline. These protect our body, readying it for an attack or an escape. Which is fine if there’s an attacker to fight or run from.

But what if that attack is in our mind?

What if someone has abused you verbally for your whole life?

Or you experienced an event that gave you PTSD…

And it’s just there, in your mind, every day.

The brain ends up staying in fight or flight, constantly making these chemicals, and pumping them into our body over and over again. Keeping us in this “ready for a fight” mode for months, sometimes years or decades.2

Once this happens, every cell in our body gets used to the high levels of chemicals in its system.

The cells become addicted to them.

Our cells then need these chemicals all the time, and your body provides that because of the trauma response.

So goes the circle, around and around.

Your body gets no time to relax and definitely no time to recover.

Over time, this endless circle causes an immune response, in the body’s attempt to bring balance back to our internal state.

Our immune system wants to defend our precious nerves and tissues by using the following tactics:


To joints, nerves, muscles, connective tissues

Causing blood pressure issues and heart problems

Chronic headaches

Nervous system malfunctions

Over production of White blood cells.

White blood cells attack anything and everything to fight the unknown threat, causing:

Digestive issues

Skin problems

Organ damage or shutdown

Pain and Fever.

Pain, anywhere and everywhere, all the time

Chronic and debilitating headaches

Low-grade constant fever, especially at night

Sound familiar?

Doesn’t it.

These autoimmune diseases that we are all suffering so terribly from can be caused by our body trying to help us in times of great mental pain and even years into the future when we thought it was behind us.

Our immune system doesn’t know what the threat is, just that we are under attack and it is just trying to protect itself. Our trauma is a trigger for the immune system to leap into action, but without a specific thing to focus on, it just goes into overdrive.

Starting a cascade of immunity against the self–or Autoimmunity.

For further information on this topic, including terminology and resources, I have written a book called Cut Out the Tough Guy Act. Please find the link for purchase and a small excerpt.

“Just like in a real battlefield, where identities are mistaken, wrong threats are sometimes identified and face the harsh judgement of destruction. An autoimmune disease is caused by the body responding to perceived threats; sadly, these threats aren’t foreign bodies such as viruses or bacteria, and your body is attacking itself.”

Wishing you continued health and happiness.

1. Association of Stress-Related Disorders With Subsequent Autoimmune Disease

Huan Song, MD, PhD1,2; Fang Fang, MD, PhD2; Gunnar Tomasson, MD, PhD3,4,5; et alFilip K. Arnberg, PhD6,7; David Mataix-Cols, PhD8,9; Lorena Fernández de la Cruz, PhD8; Catarina Almqvist, MD, PhD2,10; Katja Fall, MD, PhD11,12; Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir, PhD1,2,13

Author Affiliations Article Information

JAMA. 2018;319(23):2388-2400. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.7028

2. van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. Viking.

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