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Three Ways Childhood Trauma Affects Adulthood



According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, strong connections exist between childhood trauma and high-risk behavior such as smoking, having unprotected sex, and experiencing chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer. Individuals who have experienced abuse are likely to experience stress and anxiety later in life. This long-term stress and anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well as emotional issues throughout life.




Three Ways Childhood Trauma Affects Adulthood



In short, childhood trauma creates a fractured foundation for the individual for the rest of their lives. The way we are raised and the sense of security it creates (or shatters), all impact the emotional, and sometimes physical path, we take as adults.


Of course, I had heard about the high prevalence of childhood trauma from famous studies like the Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) study. ACE was a survey of over 17,000 people between 1995 to 1997. The participants partook in physical exams and filled out private surveys about their childhood experiences as well as their current health and behavior status.


Complex childhood trauma can cause physical scars in addition to psychological. Since the first ACEs study came out, showing how common negative childhood events are, health scientists from many fields have studied how these events affect long-term health.


How do you remember the past? Plan for the future? We all have our baggage and our fears but those who have experienced complex trauma literally have holes in the past and future. A large study of over 5,000 men and women found that those with significant complex trauma (ACEs score of 5 or higher) were six times as likely as those without any ACEs to have large gaps in their childhood memories.


The knowledge about the long-term and insidious effects of childhood trauma is extremely sad. It may even make you feel hopeless. What can we do to undo the effects of trauma? How can we remedy missed childhoods and uncertain futures?


Emotional regulation, consciousness, and memory, distorted perceptions of perpetrators of abuse, difficulties in relationships, low self-esteem, and a weak outlook on life are all known factors in adulthood that occur from childhood trauma.


Early trauma in childhood changes the developing brain because an environment characterized by abuse and neglect, for example, causes different adaptations of brain circuitry than an environment of safety, security, and love and the earlier the distress, on average, the more profound the effects in adulthood.


It is common for adults who experienced trauma in childhood to be attractive to unhealthy individuals, emotionally unavailable people or abusive people as these individuals fit their trauma identity, which can often lead to a new cycle of trauma and past abusive memories and feelings.


Seeking therapy and guidance from a mental health professional can help you work through your current emotions and help you adopt healthy coping skills to navigate through any existing or future stressors that appear in your life that may or not be related to your past childhood trauma.


Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring award-winning actress Chrissy Metz, shares how to heal childhood trauma, safeguard your mental health, and how to get comfortable when faced with difficult emotions. Click below to listen now.


Most of us have a sense that childhood trauma affects our adult relationships. After all, you probably have heard another person joke about how you married your father (or mother)? An insurance company even riffed on this in their advertising!


There are 3 common ways childhood trauma can affect your adult relationships. To understand why, you first must look at how childhood trauma affects development. Then you can see how your childhood is supposed to lay a solid foundation for your adult relationships.


Yes, those are clearly traumas. But trauma in childhood can take other forms. A type of childhood trauma that can particularly affect adult relationships is developmental trauma. Generally defined, this is trauma occurring in the earliest years, from in-utero through age 3. Sometimes this category of trauma includes up to ages 5, 8, or 12 depending on the researcher. Developmental trauma is not as obvious as the list above, as you will see below.


The final common way that childhood trauma affects your adult relationships is through trauma re-enactment. This is a long-observed phenomena. Freud famously termed the phenomena repetition compulsion. Why people seem to develop these patterns of repeated traumas is not fully understood. However, theories abound. Some theories as to why the trauma revolving door occurs include:


Even though childhood trauma clearly shapes your brain and nervous system, reshaping and healing in adulthood can happen. In recent decades, scientists discovered that the brain remains able to change over a lifetime. This ability to make new neural connections is called neuroplasticity.


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), particularly imagery rescripting, can also help address traumatic reactivity and trauma-related thoughts and memories. In fact, research shows that this type of CBT may be beneficial for treating childhood trauma as well.


For many survivors of abuse, the healing journey can start with a key understanding: how childhood trauma manifests in adult life and in interpersonal relationships. This understanding helps develop the self-awareness and compassion required in your healing journey.


Trust is a vital ingredient to forming and maintaining any healthy interpersonal relationship. But if you have experienced the trauma of childhood abuse, your ability to trust others has been compromised. Therefore, you might experience resistance or reluctance to be open and vulnerable with others out of fear that the other person will hurt or betray you.


Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to perceive and manage your own emotions and those of other people in different situations. This boils down to awareness and emotional regulation. Some examples of how EQ manifests in relationships include empathy, emotional self-awareness, the ability to express how you feel, the ability to pause before reacting, and accountability. If you have experienced childhood trauma, you may have difficulty developing one or more EQ skills.


Research has shown that people with childhood trauma report lower quality relationships and higher levels of insecure attachment. But what is attachment? Attachment Theory looks at the way you relate to others to establish or avoid intimacy. The theory suggests there are four main attachment styles:


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.


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:


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.


There are a number of different ways in which childhood trauma symptoms can manifest for adults living with childhood trauma. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut recipe to follow when diagnosing an adult with immediate signs of trauma, however, there may be some common physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of trauma victims. Listed below are just a few common warning signs of childhood trauma in adults:


Keep in mind that these are just a few common childhood trauma symptoms of trauma victims, and often times many people can exhibit a number of these symptoms or may even show none at all. If you or someone you know are showing signs of trauma, it is important to seek immediate professional help. Highland Springs Specialty Clinic is a renowned trauma and PTSD treatment center in Utah. Please call us today for more information about our program and recovery methods for childhood trauma in adults.


Childhood trauma in adults can impact experiences and relationships with others due to experienced feelings of shame and guilt. Childhood trauma in adults also results in feeling disconnected, and being unable to relate to others. Studies have shown that adults that experience childhood trauma were more likely to struggle with controlling emotions, and had heightened anxiety, depression, and anger.


This is false! Overcoming childhood trauma in adults is possible through therapy. The first step to healing from trauma is finding a therapist who can help navigate the individual through the childhood trauma symptoms and/or neglect. Therapy for childhood trauma is typically provided in an outpatient setting through group and/or individual therapy.


Healing from childhood trauma is a complex but necessary process. Through therapy, adults can overcome childhood trauma. They can raise happy and healthy families, be productive citizens, and have a fulfilling life.


Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that provides help for adults healing from childhood trauma. Specifically focused on trauma, that helps patients change destructive patterns such as negative emotional, behavioral, and thought patterns into positive solutions through the use of awareness and cognitive responses. Clinicians have found success using TF-CBT in children, adolescents, and traumatized adults in 8-25 period sessions.


Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy is another form of therapy for childhood trauma in adults. EMDR is a form of psychotherapy in which a subject will recall traumatic memories while moving their eyes from side to side in a rhythmic pattern. This treatment has shown success in decreasing the negative effects associated with PTSD. EMDR typically lasts for 6-12 sessions. 350c69d7ab


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