What is childhood trauma? What are the signs of childhood trauma? Does childhood trauma ever go away? What are the effects of childhood trauma? What are some coping mechanisms for childhood trauma? Is it possible to learn how to heal from childhood trauma? If you are looking for answers to these and more questions related to childhood trauma, this article is for you.
Getting over childhood trauma can feel complicated if you do not know how to go about it. Hi. My name is Sean Galla. I am a facilitator of support groups and support forums for men, including emotional trauma support groups, with over 10 years of experience. My work involves providing safe spaces for men to talk about men’s issues, including childhood trauma while finding healthy ways to cope and overcome these issues.
This article offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking for support, information, and help better understand childhood trauma. Here is everything you need to know about trauma, including how to heal from childhood trauma.
Table of Contents:
Understanding Childhood Trauma
Oftentimes, people undervalue the importance of their experiences as children to how it affects their everyday lives as adults. The phase of childhood is what builds individuals into who they become as adults. Childhood is the pillar on which adult personalities are built. When you are a child, your experiences shape how you understand the world around you, how you perceive relationships, how to handle your feelings, and even your thought process.
When growing up, it is said that at least 60% of Americans experience childhood trauma. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at least two-thirds of children have experienced childhood trauma at least once by the time they are adolescents.
Meanwhile, you also read our article How to Recover from PTSD and follow mensgroup.com.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Trauma is a Greek word meaning wound. All kinds of trauma, including childhood trauma, are simply wounds that happen to the human brain whenever someone experiences adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that threaten their physical safety or life. Childhood trauma can be caused by things that happen to us, such as accidents or abuse, and can also be caused by something that did not happen to us as kids, such as unmet needs.
When you experience childhood trauma, your mind and life are altered. While there may be no physical symptoms, adults who have suffered loss, neglect, and abuse as children without finding help often have emotional and psychological disorders and dissociation that affect their lives for years. This affects their personality, ability to foster healthy relationships with other adults, and ability to nurture healthy children.
Childhood trauma can manifest immediately in the child’s life or take decades to manifest and only do so in adulthood. Some childhood trauma can cause mental health disorders like PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
There are numerous examples of childhood trauma, and different people process these stressors differently. Childhood trauma can be caused by a single event or a chain of events that cause chronic exposure to a traumatic event. Some examples include:
- The consistency of lack of basic needs, including education, food, shelter, and affection
- Being the victim of systemic and institutional racism
- Lack of a proper foundation due to constant moving, natural disasters, removal from a childhood home, homelessness, or acts of terrorism
- Emotional abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse
- Living in a highly stressful childhood home
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Being separated from parents or caregivers
- Living with family members with untreated mental health conditions
- Parental incarceration
- Loss of a loved one or friend in childhood
Healing from childhood trauma is one of the hardest things an adult can do, yet so necessary if you want to lead a better, trauma-free life.
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Effects of Childhood Trauma
Different people are affected differently by a traumatic childhood, based on how their minds process traumatic experiences. However, there are common trauma symptoms and effects that can manifest in different people who have undergone childhood trauma.
Difficulty forming healthy relationships in adulthood
Adults living with unhealed child trauma often develop unhealthy habits when it comes to relationships, depending on the kind of trauma they suffer.
For instance, childhood trauma from neglect can leave one feeling undeserving of the affection of others. This pattern develops when growing up under neglect from their parents or caregivers. As a result, an adult who suffered neglect as a child may stay in relationships where they are neglected and mistreated and feel as though this is normal since it is what they grew up around.
This is a common fight-or-flight effect of people who have experienced trauma, where the person feels constantly threatened. A hyper-vigilant adult is always aware of their surroundings, especially when in new environments. For instance, a person can become highly vigilant when meeting a new person or when they are in new spaces or situations.
Depression and anxiety
Among other mental illness risk factors, people who live with unresolved childhood trauma can also exhibit signs of depression and anxiety. Sometimes, both conditions can manifest simultaneously, leaving the person with feelings of hopelessness and the need for isolation. It is only possible to overcome these mental health conditions with the help of mental health professional.
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
This is also a common mental health disorder common amongst people with unresolved childhood trauma. It is listed as an anxiety disorder in the DSM-5. PTSD is characterized by constant flashbacks of the traumatic event and distress from constant triggers that cause other symptoms such as nightmares, panic attacks, and mood changes.
PTSD occurs when your nervous system gets stuck in the events surrounding the trauma, leaving you in psychological shock and unable to process your feelings and emotions healthily.
People with PTSD can go to significant lengths to avoid them, including indulging in risky behavior like drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse that affects their well-being.
On the other hand, read How to Express Your Feelings for a guide and tips for expressing your feeling better.
How to Heal From Childhood Trauma
Most people feel as though it is impossible to heal their childhood trauma. However, with the right help, anyone can overcome the different types of childhood trauma and learn helpful coping mechanisms.
Recognize the trauma
To heal from childhood trauma, one needs to acknowledge the trauma. This is the first step one needs to take to come to terms with the trauma and how it has continued to affect their life. Childhood experiences have a profound impact on the architecture of the developing brain.
Early experiences impact how an individual view themselves and the environment around them. They affect how one copes with everyday changes and how one relates to others in adulthood.
Growing up in a traumatic setting can have lasting effects on the child’s mind. When left untreated, it continues to affect their mind even in adulthood. The sense of fear, hopelessness, and despair carries on to adulthood, setting the individual up for further trauma.
Recognizing the trauma helps you understand what happened, why it happened, and that it was not your fault. This helps to give meaning to the difficulties they are experiencing as adults stemming from the trauma, which makes it easier to seek help.
Be patient with yourself
Self-blame, diminished self-esteem, guilt, and self-loathing are common feelings amongst adults with unresolved childhood trauma. It is common for you to blame yourself for how you have turned out as an adult without knowing that some of your choices stem from the trauma you experienced as a child.
Part of learning how to heal from childhood trauma involves being more patient with yourself and less critical of yourself through the healing process. It is important to remember that what happened to you as a child was not your fault and that the trauma left a scar, and this is what you need to heal.
Like any physical health wound, psychological trauma also takes time to heal and thus requires you to be patient and give it time to heal correctly.
Seek professional help
If your traumatic memories and flashbacks seem to worsen, making it difficult to move on from the event over a long period, you should consider seeing a trauma-informed mental health provider for psychotherapy.
A trained healthcare provider or mental health professional takes you through different therapy options to help treat childhood trauma. These include:
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR therapy) to reduce the negative responses to the traumatic event
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you learn healthy ways of stress management, process your traumatic experience, and handle the effects of trauma.
- Psychodynamic therapy helps you understand the meaning of the trauma and how it affects your life
- Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) uses psychoeducation to raise awareness between emotions and thoughts
- Narrative exposure therapy (NET) to help you develop a sense of identity while reducing the pain caused by the trauma
Join a support group
If you are uncomfortable talking to your family members or friends, you can find the support you need to recover from childhood trauma by joining a support group. Trauma support groups offer a safe and open space where trauma survivors can share, learn and support each other as they recover from past trauma.
If you are a man looking for an ideal healing trauma recovery support group, mensgroup.com is a leading online men’s support forum you can join.
Men’s Group is a men-only online group that seeks to mentor all men, including childhood trauma survivors while equipping them with the right resources to become better versions of themselves.
Whether you are looking for a healing, support, or just a haven, mensgroup.com has mentors ready to help you overcome your trauma while making new friends. Becoming part of MensGroup will build healthy relationships and become a better man even after the traumatic experience. Through this online group, you will connect with fellow men to help you heal and move on.
The greatest hindrance to seeking help for childhood trauma survivors is the fear of being judged and even blamed for what they went through. Trauma support groups offer a safe space for survivors to come forth and be amongst other survivors. These groups make it easy for survivors to seek help and find healing away from society’s judging eyes. If you are a male survivor looking for support, MensGroup is an ideal support forum to find help and get back on your feet. You can lead a happy and normal everyday life by joining a support group even after a traumatic experience.
*Sources: 1. How Therapy for Childhood Trauma Can Help 2. Trauma in Childhood Can Harm Health for a Lifetime: Study 3. Steps to healing childhood trauma as an adult 4. How Childhood Trauma Can Affect Your Long-Term Health 5. Childhood trauma: 3 steps to start healing