Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Impacts of Childhood Trauma

Within the last year, I have come to learn so much more about the impact of childhood trauma. After studying psychology I of course knew that Adverse Childhood Experiences were often linked to mental health difficulties later on in life. What I did not recognise was the high prevalence of childhood trauma amongst us (society) and the way in which this trauma continues to impact our everyday lives and relationships. 

Exposure to these circumstances/ environments at a young age (particularly longitudinal exposure to more than one of these) can affect the development of the brain in various ways, leading to possibility of the following:

Parental Substance Misuse / Addiction | Parental Mental Illness | Physical/ Sexual/ Emotional (etc) Abuse | Domestic Violence | Neglect

Difficulty regulating emotions: Absence of healthy attachments and accurate demonstration of adaptive emotion regulation and coping skills may lead to individuals to have difficulty managing strong emotions (particularly those that are negative). Individuals may use coping mechanisms such as aggression, violence, self-harm, and substance abuse in an attempt to manage how they're feeling. 

Attachment difficulties: An insecure attachment with a primary care-giver may lead to future struggles developing and maintaining social and romantic relationships. For example, individuals may develop a heightened fear of rejection, struggle to develop trust or have inconsistent and inappropriate reactions to others. 

Hyper-vigilanceAs humans, we are programmed to respond to outside stressors physiologically. This way, if a tiger were to chase you, your body will naturally fight, flight or freeze to save your life. The body will flood with adrenaline to prepare your muscles to do what they need to do for survival. 
Today, you're unlikely to be chased by a tiger however the brain will react the same to perceived threats such as domestic violence or abuse. Individuals may thus be left with a hyper alert state to threat cues around them, causing inappropriate responses and reducing the chances of one recognising positive social cues. 

Unhelpful Internal Core Beliefs: Survivors of childhood trauma often report having unhelpful core beliefs such as "i'm not good enough" "I am unloveable" "i'm stupid". These beliefs may have interfere with development in other areas of life such as relationships, social situations, education and employment. 

There are many other ways in which childhood trauma can impact you, but I thought this info covers the significant basics. The good news is, the brain is capable of consistently adapting and changing. Thus, if you or someone you know has suffered from such trauma which impacts your life in an unhelpful way, there is absolutely hope of positive change and living you're best life :D 


For further reading.. 

https://therapeuticcare.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/The-neurobiology-of-childhood-trauma-and-abuse.pdf

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