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COVID 19 and Trauma Responses

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

It is not uncommon for my clients who have the most trauma background to be extremely high functioning and completely unaware they have trauma. It is normal for clients to minimize the original traumas that laid a foundation for them in their youth. Trauma causes us to feel normal about things that are abusive, and comfortable in areas that are dangerous. Often it makes us feel alive.

So, I was not surprised when one of my clients was thriving initially when COVID started. Trauma usually causes a response in our bodies and the most common one’s people have heard of is fight, flight or freeze.

What might a fight response in COVID look like?

  • I’m going to work and be the best and invent, create, learn grow.

  • Or I’m not going to listen to the stay at home rules I wont survive if I do.

What might a flight response in COVID look like?

  • This isn’t happening.

  • I need to change jobs.

  • I need to leave a relationship or city.

What might a freeze response in COVID look like?

  • Can’t get out of bed

  • Excess tv watching (this can also be a flight response a way to check out)

These are just examples of the internal battle that may occur for different people. It is not an extensive list and some people will go between many of these. The important thing is to recognize the trauma/crisis and its responses are not always bad. Often, they assist us through trauma or difficult times. It creates resiliency in us. The part of us that takes over during a time like this is trying to help us get through successfully. Try not to resent it, instead embrace its usefulness, its protection and when the crisis is over you can get the support you need to minimize the negative effects of the crisis on your brain and mental health.

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