Can Childhood Trauma Cause Shortness of Breath?

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Breathing Through the Past: How Childhood Trauma Can Cause Shortness of Breath

Greetings, Brave Souls,

As an Award Winning, Childhood Trauma Expert and Inner Resilience Coach, I’ve encountered countless women grappling with the invisible effects of their pasts.

Today, I want to shed light on a less commonly recognised symptom of childhood trauma: shortness of breath. This post is crafted to help you, the resilient women who might be puzzled by this physical manifestation of a wounded past.

Understanding the Link

Trauma, especially from childhood, doesn’t just linger in the mind; it inhabits the body. When trauma isn’t resolved, it can manifest physically and one of the most striking symptoms is shortness of breath. This isn’t just about the psychological “feeling” of being unable to breathe but a real, physical reaction.

Why Does This Happen?

  1. Fight or Flight Response: Childhood trauma can permanently heighten your body’s threat detection system. When a current event subconsciously reminds you of past trauma, your body may react as if you are still in danger, triggering a fight or flight response that affects your breathing.
  2. Emotional Overload: Emotional stress from unresolved trauma can lead to anxiety, which often manifests physically as rapid breathing or shortness of breath.
  3. Physical Memory: The body remembers traumatic events through sensory memory. Certain smells, sounds, or sights can trigger a physical reaction, including breathing difficulties, even if you’re not consciously aware of the trigger.

Signs to Watch For:

If you experience unexplained shortness of breath, particularly in situations where you might feel stressed or anxious, it could be linked to unresolved childhood trauma. Pay attention to these moments:

  • During Stressful Interactions: Do you find it hard to breathe during emotionally charged or stressful interactions?
  • In Specific Environments: Are there places or people that make you feel uneasy and suddenly breathless?
  • When Feeling Overwhelmed: Notice if your breath shortens when you feel overwhelmed, anxious or out of control.

Steps Toward Healing

Acknowledging the connection between your physical symptoms and your trauma is the first step towards healing. Here’s how you can begin to address these symptoms:

  • Seek Professional Support: A specialist trained in adverse childhood experiences can help you break-through and understand these physical reactions.
  • Mindfulness and Breathing Exercises: Techniques such as mindfulness meditation and controlled breathing exercises can help manage your immediate physical symptoms and reduce anxiety.
  • Build a Supportive Environment: Surround yourself with people who understand and support your journey to healing. A supportive environment can provide emotional safety, which helps alleviate stress and its physical manifestations.

Conclusion: You Are Not Alone

If you find yourself struggling with unexplained shortness of breath and suspect it might be linked to past trauma, remember, you are not alone. Many women experience similar symptoms, and acknowledging this is a pivotal step towards healing. Your journey might be challenging, but it is also a path to reclaiming your body’s calm and your life’s joy.

Let each breath be a step toward healing. As you breathe in courage and exhale fear, know that each breath is a powerful affirmation of your resilience.

With compassion and solidarity,

Sarah Rees-Evans – Childhood Trauma, Inner Resilience and Wellness Specialist for Women

PS. If you’d love to know more about how we can work together to regulate your breathing using breath-work tools to walk you through anxious moments, reduce dissociation so you feel calmer in life, breath-work is one of my areas of expertise.

Let’s connect on Instagram, send me a DM to know more about how we can work together to regulate your breath and let’s get you reclaiming your life and inner peace. Instagram –

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