Friday, October 14, 2022

Childhood Trauma and Mental Health

Childhood trauma is strongly associated with developing mental health problems. We mentioned earlier that Complex PTSD was also linked to ongoing and relational trauma, especially when the trauma begins during a person’s youth. We expect that many of the adults reading this book will find the experiences we’re about to cover of particular interest. 

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term used to describe the types of abuse, neglect, or other potentially traumatic experiences that can happen to a person under the age of 18. 

Trauma can come from a variety of experiences. Common examples of trauma that children and adolescents can experience include things like:

·         Sexual Abuse / Rape

·         Neglect

·         Emotional Abuse / Narcissistic Parent

·         School Violence / Bullying

·         Natural Disasters

·         Military-Family Related Stressors

·         Sudden or Violent Loss of A Loved One

·         Serious Accidents

·         Life-Threatening Illnesses 

NPR has a basic Adverse Childhood Experiences quiz you can take as a sample self-assessment to get started on your healing journey. Please note, this sample quiz is not a replacement for an actual therapeutic assessment. It does, however, provide some good background information. There are other resources available in our new book Acknowledge and Heal: A Women-Focused Guide To Understanding PTSD.  

It is important to recognize that upsetting experiences are not always traumatic. Divorce, for example, is an upsetting experience for children. It can create a feeling of abandonment or parental loss in a child, but the divorce alone is not necessarily traumatizing. How the parents handle the divorce, however, can be. If one parent attempts to use the child as a pawn with the other parent, that can create a traumatic situation for the child. Situational context is important.

In most cases of abuse, it is the caregiver who is identified as the perpetrator - someone the child knows and relies on for care: a parent, teacher, religious leader, coach, or family physician. This includes direct abuse and/or negligence in reporting abuse involving a child and caregiver.  

We should also note that many children who are exposed to potentially traumatic events may experience initial distress, but it is short-lived. In the case of PTSD, it is the duration of symptoms that categorize the disorder. That is not to downplay the seriousness of trauma. Again, context is important.

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If you believe change is possible, you want to change, and you are willing to do the work, you absolutely CAN get your life back.”

Get your copy of The Soldier's Guide to PTSDThe Soldier's Workbook

or Acknowledge & Heal, A Women's-Focused Guide to PTSD

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