More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.

Traumatic experiences frequently result in “one trial learning,” meaning that a single event, or experience, can alter brain structure and/or functioning, which in turn results in new learning that is quickly solidified. Though other types of learning usually require repetition, trauma learning can happen after just one experience...

Given that the brain’s primary goal is to keep you alive (not mentally healthy!), it makes sense that the brain learns, very quickly, how to best do this when your life is threatened.

Moving forward, after a traumatic event, the brain has learned that threats to your safety exist, and that the best way to keep you alive in the face of those threats is to keep you hyper-attuned to your surroundings at all times—even if that means you’re stressed out, anxious, and in survival mode all the time. The result is that you may find it difficult to exit survival mode, downregulate the amygdala, and just relax...

While this feels terrible, the brain has learned that the world can be a dangerous place and that survival responses can keep you alive, so the amygdala continues to activate, keeping you in “survival mode” just in case another threat comes along.
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