Trauma in Childhood

How does childhood stress impact trauma?

Stressors permeate all aspects of life. Factors that influence one’s ability to manage stress include:

  • An individual’s upbring
  • Childhood experiences
  • Genetics/heredity
  • Other life experiences

Early life experiences influence how one views stressors, tolerates stressors, and recovers from these stressors. As a person experiences stressors, especially in early childhood, their neural networks begin to shift and they become more reactive than responsive. This occurs because a person’s fight, flight, collapse, and freeze responses are constantly triggered in stressful or perceived stressful events. Furthermore, when a person lives in these trauma responses they can be more susceptible to trauma because they can’t process through challenges that arise and their nervous system is dysregulated, which can put them in vulnerable situations.

What is trauma?

Man experiencing stress from trauma
Hypervigilance can lead to physiological responses.

Trauma for anyone is:

  • Self-defined
  • Can be different from person-to-person
  • Can change over time because of life events

What is a traumatic event?

As noted above, trauma is self-defined. Traumatic events can range from:

  • Bullying
  • Car accidents
  • Harassment
  • Someone breaks into your home
  • Presentations at work or school

Consequently, there is a difference between traumatic events that act as stressors in life and those events that may lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Prolonged exposure to childhood trauma as can also result in Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Events that cause stress may not meet the threshold for PTSD. PTSD events include:

  • A life treating event
  • Sexual abuse
  • Unpredictable loss of someone you care about
  • Observing a tragic event
  • Experiencing vicarious trauma through work (EMS or ER doctors)

How does someone heal from trauma?

Altogether, trauma can impact every person differently. A thorough assessment by a trained professional can help determine how trauma impacts you. Working with a therapist trained in trauma therapy can help you process and integrate past traumatic memories and other dysfunctional material. Trauma therapy can vary in terms of length which individually determined by the individual and their past experiences. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) are two evidenced based treatments to help people heal from past traumatic events.

People can heal from past trauma with the right support. We offer free 20-minute consultations to determine if we are a good fit to support you or someone you love in their recovery journey or submit a form here.

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