You might think that traumatic events are all about physical scars. But they also have a strong impact on your mind. Childhood trauma can have effects in your adulthood as well. Right from alcohol addiction to having mental health issues, traumatic events in childhood can spill over to adulthood. In fact, survivors of childhood trauma can often experience feelings of worry, anxiety, guilt, shame, sadness and anger. You can take several steps and lead a healthy life as an adult by leaving behind the traumatic events that you faced during childhood.
HealthShots checked with Dr Rishi Gautam, a US-based mental health expert and a specialist of psychiatry, to know how childhood trauma can affect adults.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that children encounter during their development. Exposure of violence or abuse in childhood activates the body’s stress response system. This in turn leads to disruptions in the normal brain development. Dr Gautam says that they have a long-lasting impact causing psychological stress which manifests in the form of –
• Heightened anxiety
• Inability to trust their caregivers
• Poor sleep
• Avoidance of school and everyday activities
Adults who have been exposed to trauma in their childhood and haven’t dealt with it the right way, are at increased risk of developing some of these things.
They can have depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a condition that lingers into adulthood. It causes impairment in people’s ability to form fruitful relationships, be able to work, avoid recollections of traumatic memories, and sleep, amongst other things.
An adult who experienced childhood trauma may rely more on alcohol and drugs, which are all bad habits for health.
Childhood trauma also affects adulthood relationships. People may suffer marital discord or even domestic violence (how to overcome domestic violence trauma).
Be it obesity or diabetes, an adult who faced traumatic events as a child will have a high risk of developing such illnesses.
This will further lead to difficulties in developing a stable sense of self as adults. It will cause poor self-esteem, suicidal feelings and self-injurious behaviour, says the expert.
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Don’t let traumatic events in your life make you unhealthy and come in the way of happiness. Healing is very important to lead a happy life (how to deal with a trauma patient). Here’s what you can do:
• Practice mindfulness and don’t just get lost in the past.
• Journal your thoughts as it’s a safe space to express yourself without fear of judgment. It’s a good step for those who aren’t comfortable with sharing these experiences with others.
• Practice coping with deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation
• Seek therapy as trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy is an evidence-based treatment for it.
• Antidepressants and anxiolytics have been found to be helpful in situations not responsive to therapy.