Childhood is a time of growth and development where a child explores the world around them with wonder and boundless curiosity. However, it may also be a time of great pain and suffering for some individuals. According to therapists specializing in childhood trauma and anxiety in Palm Beach, the effects of traumatic events experienced during childhood can lead to a lifetime of emotional and psychological struggles that can be difficult to overcome.
Contrary to what some believe, childhood trauma is a common problem affecting more than two-thirds of children in the United States. As these children mature into adulthood, their childhood trauma can continue to shape their experiences and impact their relationships, career choices, and overall quality of life.
What Is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma results from exposure to emotionally painful or distressing events during the formative years. Although childhood trauma may look different depending on the individual and the situation, it’s generally when a child experiences, witnesses, or hears about threatening or dangerous situations.
If left unresolved, childhood trauma can impact their long-term ability to cope or function. In other words, childhood trauma is like an indelible mark that can follow an individual throughout their life and influence their journey in often unseen but profound ways.
How Does It Affect the Brain?
Did you know that trauma experienced during childhood can affect the way a person responds to stress and perceived threats? When the child senses physical or psychological stress, their brain’s response system goes overdrive. It triggers the adrenal gland on top of the kidneys to produce increased cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Increased cortisol levels cause physiological changes in the brain that may lead to anxiety disorders later in life.
In addition, childhood trauma potentially leads to negative beliefs about oneself and the world, such as feeling unsafe or helpless. Unfortunately, these negative beliefs fuel anxiety. Childhood trauma can also make a person more susceptible to anxiety because it affects their ability to regulate emotions and cope with stress.
How Can I Deal with Childhood Trauma as an Adult?
Although people build their personalities on the foundation of their childhood, it’s often easy for anybody to undervalue their childhood experiences. As a result, they underestimate these experiences' impact on them when they become adults. If you need help overcoming childhood trauma, you’ll want to address it immediately. Healing from a traumatic experience involves the following steps:
Acknowledge the Trauma
The first step toward overcoming childhood trauma and fully appreciating life is to acknowledge that the traumatic experience happened. Otherwise, you can get stuck in the past and continue to suffer unpleasant, painful, or debilitating memories and symptoms.
Work with a Skilled and Experienced Therapist
A certified trauma-informed therapist can offer appropriate treatment, counseling, and therapies to help you learn how to heal from childhood trauma. The most helpful therapies include trauma-focused cognitive processing therapy (CPT), dialectical behavioral therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), exposure therapy, or somatic experiencing.
Stick with Therapy
Healing from the effects of childhood trauma doesn’t happen overnight. Your therapist will help you spell out the trauma, determine how it affects your daily life, learn coping mechanisms to deal with its residual effects, and change your perception of the traumatic event you experienced as a child.
Join Support Groups
Participating in peer support groups allows you to interact with others who’ve gone through childhood trauma.