The incidence of childhood trauma in the United States is eye-opening — more than two-thirds of children report at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. From bullying to abuse, trauma is an unfortunate part of growing up for many children, and the effects can very much carry over into adulthood.
To help make peace with a tumultuous past, Dr. Diana Ghelber and our team at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, offer a wide range of mental health services. Our goal is to help you reconcile past traumatic events so that you can move forward and pursue a happy and healthy life.
To get started, it’s important to recognize the signs that a past childhood trauma may still be haunting you, so we thought we’d review some of the more common warning flags here.
One of the first things to understand about childhood trauma is that there’s no set cause-and-effect relationship. There are many different types of trauma and each person’s reaction to the event depends upon a host of factors, such as whether you were able to “process” the event with the right support systems.
To give you a better idea about what constitutes trauma, here are some of the more common events:
- Childhood sexual or physical abuse
- Witnessing domestic violence
- Community or school violence
- Natural disasters
- Loss of a loved one
- Serious illness or accident
Again, it’s important to note that these are just common examples of trauma — your experiences may not reflect any of the events on this list, but it was still traumatic for you.
Signs of childhood trauma
There are many different ways in which the lingering effects of childhood trauma can influence your adulthood, including:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
While many people are aware of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which stems from unresolved trauma, this is a very specific mental health issue that doesn’t develop in everyone who experiences trauma. In fact, only 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys experience PTSD after a traumatic experience.
That said, some of the signs of PTSD include:
- Reliving the event (flashbacks or nightmares)
- Problems with trust
- Self-destructive or risky behaviors
If any of these apply to you as an adult for no reason that you can think of, there is some cause for concern as you may be dealing with unresolved PTSD from your childhood.
Attachment and relationships
Another warning flag of childhood trauma that carries over into adulthood are problems forming attachments and relationships. For example, if your childhood trauma was caused by a loved one or caregiver, you may learn to mistrust adults. This mistrust can carry over into your adulthood and affect your ability to form relationships with others.
Or, perhaps you consistently form unhealthy relationships with bad people since that is what you know from your childhood (a victim of child abuse may marry an abusive spouse, for example).
Whatever the case, if you struggle with forming healthy relationships with your peers, this may be a sign of unresolved childhood trauma.
Emotional regulation and responses
Another side effect of childhood trauma may be problems regulating your emotions. There are many ways in which this problem can manifest itself, including:
- Uncontrollable anger
- An inability to express your emotions
Again, these are just some examples, and you may experience different issues when it comes to regulating your emotional health.
While childhood trauma can directly affect your mental and emotional health, it can also influence your physical health, For example, studies show that kids who were subjected to abuse were more at risk for serious health issues, including:
- Coronary artery disease
Suicide attempts are also shown to be considerably higher among adults who experienced childhood trauma.
If any of these descriptions ring true for you, we urge you to come see us so that we can release the hold that childhood trauma still has on your life. To get started, contact one of our offices in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up a consultation.