These signs are pretty hidden. These are secret experiences a person goes through. An anxious or nervous person will not speak about it unless they have to.

  • Racing heart, palpitations, breathing problems
  • Anxiety, including chronic low level anxiety
  • Being on ‘red alert’, or hyper-vigilant
  • Panic attacks
  • Nervousness, fidgeting, holding oneself or one’s own hands
  • Can’t sit still
  • Overwhelming fears or seemingly irrational fears such as something falling from above
  • Flashbacks and intrusive memories or images
  • Unexpected or explosive emotional responses but normally calm, kind persona
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smell, suggestion, language, images or touch
  • Insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, vivid dreams that seem real, dreaming while awake
  • Physical, mental or emotional exhaustion (seems inescapable)


The next 4 signs are a little bit more visible and may indicate repeat or sustained trauma.

  • Mental ‘blankness’ or spaced-out feelings, whole body tingling, constant self observation, derealization
  • Unexplained bouts of grief, sadness or rage – hiding away or acting out
  • Don’t want to be touched, pulls back at offers of affection, clings to parent’s leg (child), extremely shy
  • Longer than normal thumb sucking – into later childhood and sometimes adulthood


In cases of early childhood trauma and traumatic stress, the self-regulation capacity of our autonomic nervous system and physiology is disturbed, preventing us from regaining a ‘relaxed normal’ state. Otherwise benign events or triggers may exhaust our nervous system whose distorted ‘normal’ settings are hypersensitive, unresponsive or erratic. Over time, after months or even several decades, this can result in unwanted life circumstances such as the following:

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