There is no one fixed and certain answer when it comes to how to overcome childhood trauma. Trauma itself is entirely subjective. What is true for one person might not be true for another…
How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime
Even recognizing the fact that a person has experienced a traumatic event can be difficult. Due to the nature of the experience, especially in young life, there can be dissociation or memory blocks around it. A person might even be completely unaware that they experienced anything untoward as a child.
But, despite this deliberate or accidental blocking of the memory of the event, the effects will often be present in a person’s daily life. Their habits, decisions, reactions, as well as the way they perceive life and people in general, can all be affected. The after-effects can even prompt actual physical symptoms and pain.
There are a huge variety of ways in which childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. It is by no means the same for every person. For example:
- One individual might have a childhood which an outside observer could label as being continually traumatic, or after experiencing several deeply traumatic events, yet they neither exhibit nor feel any effects as an adult.
- Another individual might experience what could be called a comparatively minor event yet have serious problems in later life.
It might be claimed that it is in some way tied to the perception.
How childhood trauma affects the brain
Back in 2012, the University of Texas and Brown University in Rhode Island amongst others ran different studies on how childhood trauma affects the brain. They found that it can:
- Alter the structure of a child’s brain
- Change the way in which the genes which regulate stress are expressed
- Have links to the brain’s ability to moderate negative impulses
- Affect how neurotransmitters in the brain respond to drug or alcohol use
Signs of childhood trauma in adults
There are many common symptoms of childhood trauma in adults. None of these is in any way a guarantee that a certain person did go through a traumatic event or events. But they may be a sign or indication of it.
It may also be the case that the trauma has not triggered psychological, emotional or behavioural problems on its own. But then when a person is exposed to another traumatic experience – or even a great deal of stress – in later life, they find they are more susceptible to this kind of problem.
The possible signs of childhood trauma in adults include:
- Chronic depression
- Anxiety attacks
- An innate feeling of worthlessness or shame
- Trouble maintaining relationships – personal, romantic or work
- Sleeping problems
- Nightmares or flashbacks
- Addictive tendencies or eating disorders
- Sudden rage or uncontrollable anger
- Self-harm and self-destructive behaviour
- An irrational fear of certain people, places or events – and/or active avoidance of the same
How to overcome childhood trauma
Just as no one person’s experience of trauma and the effects of trauma will be the same as another, it’s unlikely that one method for overcoming traumatic childhood experiences will ever be universally effective. Many people try things like:
- Visiting a therapist – this should almost certainly be most people’s number one action. Getting a professional diagnosis – or simply having a knowledgeable and qualified opinion or person to ask questions of – is vital.
- Calling a helpline – if a situation really can’t wait, there are several helplines available.
- Taking a spiritual approach – usually undertaken after professional help has first been sought, some people prefer to consider some sort of spiritual healing process. This can involve getting away from it all physically, with nature, meditation or even ayahuasca retreats with workshops for childhood trauma becoming increasingly well known. Ayahuasca done in the right environment and with the right kind of support can be very effective to discover the source trauma and transform the effects of it in a relatively low amount of time.
- Changing behaviors – recognizing and starting to change any of the many possible negative behavior patterns a person might be stuck in is an important step in the process of affecting change. This can mean anything from joining an addiction support group to leaving a negative relationship to concentrating on personal growth and transformation.
- Starting to take care of themselves physically and emotionally – this can mean something as simple as allowing themselves to get closer to people or taking care of themselves through exercise, massages, eating a healthy diet and so on.
But there really is nothing more important than recognizing that you may have experienced any of the many types of childhood trauma and deciding to do something about it. You are not alone.