Almost 1 in 7 children experiences trauma during their formative years. Adults frequently assert that children who experience trauma won’t remember it as adults because they were so young at the time. However, childhood trauma can have a lasting impact.
That’s not to say that even if a child goes through a horrific experience, they won’t be emotionally scarred for life. However, it is crucial to know when a child may require professional assistance to cope with their trauma. Additionally, early intervention can help stop the effects of childhood trauma from lasting into adulthood.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma refers to an experience you had as a young child that made you feel completely helpless and unable to rely on the outside world or other people to keep you safe.
The unfortunate result of many childhood traumas impacts how you think and relate to the world and others as an adult. This may indicate that you occasionally experience life as complex and challenging in some ways.
Misconceptions that childhood trauma only involves physical danger or harm must be dispelled as it also involves mental harm too.
Trauma is anything that makes a child feel helpless, exposed, overpowered, or terrified. Psychological trauma develops due to your unique experience and perspective of what happened to you, not because of the “facts” of “what happened.”
Impacts of Childhood Trauma
Traumatic experiences can impact a child’s brain development, which can have long-term effects on their physical, mental, and social development.
Trauma experienced as a child may affect mental health. The psychological effects of traumatic events are:
- uncontrollable anger issues,
- emotional distress,
- high-stress levels,
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and
- psychotic illnesses.
Complexly trauma experienced is a trauma that stays a lifetime, and children may even become disassociated. Disassociation involves mentally separating oneself from others. They may believe they are not in their bodies and are viewing it from somewhere else, or they may forget what happened, leaving memory gaps.
According to research in Psychiatric Times, adults who experience traumas like physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence as children have a significantly higher prevalence of suicide attempts.
How to Recover from Childhood Trauma of Your Own
You can take several steps to help you cope better if you experienced trauma as a child and still need to go through the healing process. Some of them are:
- spending time with the supportive people in your life,
- maintaining a regular eating and sleeping schedule,
- engaging in physical activity, and
- avoiding drugs and alcohol.
You can begin to heal by speaking with a mental health expert. Numerous trauma-informed therapies, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), among others, may be used as therapeutic options.
You might also want to contact reputable groups that can assist people who have survived childhood trauma. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) disaster distress helpline is one choice. Another option if you’d rather text someone is the Crisis Text Line.
Children can return to a healthy life even though they may be in some distress following a traumatic event. Some youngsters are less affected by their circumstances than others.
It is never too late to get help if childhood trauma has had adverse effects.
After facing such a traumatized event, it is necessary to know mental health basics so that, if not others, you can take care of yourself or someone you know. To learn more about Mental Health First Aid – Basics, click here.
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