Most people think of trauma as something that happens in adulthood – a car accident, a natural disaster, a terrorist attack. But trauma can happen at any age, and the effects of childhood trauma can last a lifetime.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma is any event that leaves a lasting emotional scar. It can be physical, sexual, or emotional abuse; exposure to violence, war, or natural disasters; or even just growing up in a high-conflict or neglectful home. And while we often think of children as resilient – able to bounce back from bad experiences – the truth is that these events can have a profound and lasting impact on their lives.
The Effects of Childhood Trauma
Adults who experienced childhood trauma are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems. They're also at higher risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. And the effects of childhood trauma don’t just stop there. Research shows that people who experienced trauma as children are more likely to have health problems in adulthood, including chronic pain and autoimmune diseases.
Why Does Childhood Trauma Have Such Lasting Effects?
Researchers believe that the reason childhood trauma has such long-lasting effects is because it changes the way the brain develops. In particular, it affects the hippocampus – the part of the brain responsible for memory and stress response. This can lead to problems with mood regulation, sleep, and impulse control later in life. It can also make it difficult to form trusting relationships with others.
If you experienced childhood trauma, it's important to understand that you're not alone – and that you can get help. There are many organizations that offer support for adults who experienced childhood trauma, including therapy and support groups.
If you're struggling with the effects of childhood trauma, reach out for help today.