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Exploring the Link Between Trauma and ADHD: Unraveling my Connection in Therapy

Understanding the link between trauma and ADHD is crucial for providing effective support and intervention. - Dr. Bessel van der Kolk


In late 2022, during therapy, I discovered I have a mild form of ADHD which presents itself in various different ways but namely:


·      Being easily distracted and struggling to pay attention (mostly with topics or people seemingly uninteresting to me) but very focused on areas of interest to me

·      Consistently switching and changing between tasks and taking on a lot

·      Forgetfulness and losing things

·      Constantly fidgeting and being unable to sit still


Other symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, excessive talking, difficulty organising tasks are less prevalent for me but have cropped up in times of stress.


Fortunately, through breathwork, meditation and TRE®, I’ve been able to manage my ADHD effectively without medication and I've become more aware of when my symptoms creep up on me. Endless, mindless social media scrolling anyone? Oh, the irony is not lost on me.


“You know, the ADHD could be linked to your trauma” my therapist said.


I didn’t know. But as we spoke further about it, pieces of my scattered brain started to link up and was making sense of it all.

The interplay between trauma and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is gaining increasing attention, particularly with adult ADHD and late diagnoses, and efforts to understand this complex relationship is pivotal for effective intervention and support.


In this blog, I’m aiming to delve into the intricate connection between trauma and ADHD, exploring strategies to manage both and spotlighting the potential of Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE®) in addressing these intertwined challenges.


Unraveling the Link


Recent research has shed light on the significant correlation between trauma and ADHD. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a renowned psychiatrist and author, emphasises this connection, stating, "Trauma significantly increases the risk of ADHD symptoms." This observation underscores the intricate interplay between adverse experiences and cognitive functioning.


Individuals who have experienced trauma often exhibit symptoms akin to ADHD, such as inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. However, it's crucial to discern between the two. Dr. Gabor Maté, a prominent expert on trauma, elucidates, "ADHD symptoms may result from unprocessed trauma, but they are not synonymous with trauma itself."


Strategies for Addressing Trauma and ADHD


Incorporating trauma-informed care with evidence-based strategies is essential for addressing the multifaceted needs of individuals with ADHD and trauma histories. - Dr. Stephanie Sarkis


Navigating the complexities of trauma and ADHD necessitates a multifaceted approach. Integrating trauma-informed care with evidence-based interventions for ADHD is paramount. Dr. Stephanie Sarkis, a leading expert on ADHD, advocates for a comprehensive treatment plan encompassing therapy, medication (if applicable), and lifestyle adjustments.


Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) tailored to address trauma-related concerns can be invaluable. Dr. Judith Herman, renowned for her work on trauma recovery, underscores the efficacy of trauma-focused CBT in mitigating symptoms and fostering resilience.


Mindfulness practices also offer promising benefits for individuals grappling with trauma and ADHD. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a trailblazer in mindfulness-based interventions, highlights how cultivating present-moment awareness can enhance self-regulation and reduce reactivity.


Unlocking Potential with TRE®


TRE® offers a profound pathway for releasing tension and trauma stored in the body, promoting healing and resilience. - Dr. David Berceli


Tension, Stress & Trauma Release Exercises (TRE®) emerge as a promising modality for alleviating the burdens of trauma and ADHD. Developed by Dr. David Berceli, TRE® comprises simple yet profound exercises designed to evoke neurogenic tremors, facilitating the release of tension and stored trauma.


Research underscores the therapeutic potential of TRE® for trauma recovery and ADHD management. Dr. Peter Levine, a pioneering figure in somatic experiencing, lauds TRE® as a "revolutionary approach" for restoring equilibrium in the nervous system.


TRE® empowers individuals to tap into their body's innate capacity for healing, offering a non-verbal pathway to process and integrate traumatic experiences. As Dr. van der Kolk affirms, "TRE® can be instrumental in discharging the physiological residue of trauma, promoting a sense of safety and wellbeing."


Whilst more research is needed, it feels like the link between trauma and ADHD illuminates an intricate web of factors influencing mental health. By recognising and addressing this connection, we can pave the way for further research and education and for profound healing and transformation. Through a holistic approach encompassing trauma-informed care, evidence-based interventions, and innovative modalities like TRE®, individuals can reclaim agency over their wellbeing and embark on a journey towards resilience and thriving.


As we collectively navigate the complexities of trauma and ADHD, let us embrace compassion, curiosity, and collaboration in fostering healing and growth.


If you have ADHD or know someone who does and you want to try TRE and see if it helps with symptoms, please get in touch. I’d love to help.

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