Whether you've experienced acute trauma, a chronic trauma—such as exposure to ongoing threats, stress, poverty, neglect or oppression—or multiple traumas (also known as complex trauma), the condition is an unfortunate fact of life. And it affects a lot of us at some point in our lives.

Any time you have been exposed to something that made you feel unsure of your ability to protect yourself, you have experienced trauma.

Your body's response to trauma

All trauma can cause long-term effects, but not everyone will experience them. Our bodies are amazingly adept at processing trauma, large and small. When you are in a situation that feels threatening to your safety, your body generates a tremendous amount of adrenaline—a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands when you're under stress. Adrenaline increases the rate of blood circulation and breathing, and prepares muscles for action, especially in case you need to fight or flee.

In such a situation, the amygdala—the part of the brain responsible for self-preservation behaviors such as the fight-or-flight response—cranks into overdrive, while