Trauma is one of the most well-known risk factors for substance abuse, mental health disorders, and other behavioral crises. However, some individuals may be unaware of the role that trauma, specifically from their childhood, continues to play in their well-being in the present. Childhood trauma often gets swept under the rug, whether individuals intentionally choose to deny the presence of trauma from their childhood or if it has become repressed from being unable to effectively cope with it in youth. Regardless, it is crucial to understand the link between childhood trauma and present mental wellness and to understand that there are effective treatments available to help individuals achieve lasting healing from childhood trauma and its effects.
At CCM, we are no strangers to the complex challenges that often arise when seeking recovery from mental and behavioral health disorders, as well as the issues that inform them. We are passionate about assisting clients in getting the help that they need to achieve lasting healing. For this reason, we provide concierge services that enable clients to connect with the most appropriate treatments and long-term wellness options to fit their unique needs and goals for recovery. Moreover, with professional guidance and support, healing from childhood trauma and its effects is possible.
Understanding Childhood Trauma
To understand the impact of childhood trauma on mental health, it is first important to have a clear definition of childhood trauma and address common examples of it. According to a publication by Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, “[C]hildhood trauma is defined according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV and V as exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence. This includes experiences of direct trauma exposure, witnessing trauma or learning about trauma that happened to a close friend or relative.”
Some of the more well-known examples of childhood trauma include bullying, the sudden loss of a loved one, parental divorce, exposure to domestic or sexual violence, and child maltreatment, such as abuse or neglect. However, acts of terrorism, life-threatening illnesses, and military family-related stressors (including parental loss and family deployment) can also inform the lasting consequences of trauma.
The Effects of Childhood Trauma on the Brain and Body
It is essential to understand that childhood trauma can result from one event as well as stem from multiple events over time. As explained by the publication above, “Exposure to a traumatic event or series of chronic traumatic events (e.g., child maltreatment) activates the body’s biological stress response systems,” the most common being the fight-or-flight response. While these systems are designed to protect us from harm, chronic activation of these systems (and associated surges in the stress hormone cortisol) disrupt the body’s normal processes and can make individuals vulnerable to chronic stress.
Although childhood stress affects everyone differently, the EXCLI Journal explains, “It appears that being exposed to stress can cause pathophysiologic changes in the brain, and these changes can be manifested as behavioral, cognitive, and mood disorders.” More specifically, instances of childhood trauma adversely impact childhood brain development and associated sense of self-worth, thereby increasing the risk of developing mental and behavioral health disorders throughout both childhood and adulthood.
The publication titled Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) highlights various common impacts of trauma that may linger from childhood to adulthood, beginning with physical and emotional impacts such as trauma-related stress disorders (mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder), emotional numbing or dysregulation, physical disorders, and other chronic health conditions. However, less intense symptoms of trauma that may also surface include sleep disturbances, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal problems, isolationist tendencies, and ongoing triggers or flashbacks. Furthermore, untreated trauma can also inform substance use disorder (SUD), developmental disorders, and co-occurring disorders as a result of self-medicating practices and other challenges.
Establishing Healing From Childhood Trauma and Its Effects
Needless to say, the effects of childhood trauma stretch far and wide. Those struggling with mental health disorders or substance abuse in adulthood may not recognize that their symptoms of distress may have initially developed in childhood. Identifying the connections that exist between childhood trauma and current presenting problems is crucial for recovery, as it allows individuals to effectively process and overcome trauma to sustain lasting wellness for a lifetime.
There are many treatment programs, therapies, and services available to help individuals begin the healing process from mental and behavioral health disorders and their underlying root causes, like childhood trauma. Healing from childhood trauma often requires the utilization of various services to ensure an effective balance of peer and professional support for recovery. Individuals can consider engaging with a combination of services such as support groups, individual therapy, creative expression outlets, and other holistic modalities to establish peace and wellness from childhood trauma in adulthood.
At CCM, we can connect individuals and families with the most appropriate treatment services to fit their needs. Whether an individual is seeking professional guidance in entering a treatment program or is seeking knowledge of effective ancillary services needed to maintain recovery, we have the expertise that clients need to sustain lasting recovery from childhood trauma and various health disorders in their lives.
Despite what some may believe, trauma from childhood can leave a lasting impact on mental health throughout adulthood. If you or a loved one is struggling with mental or behavioral health disorders, it is essential to understand the potential impact of childhood trauma in perpetuating or exacerbating your distress. By addressing the lingering impact of childhood trauma on your mental health and your future recovery, you can work to heal from its effects with professional treatment and support. At CCM, we provide professional concierge services to connect individuals with appropriate treatment and long-term wellness options. Your healing journey is just a phone call away. Learn more by calling us at (855) 467-3226 today.