People think of childhood as an idyllic, carefree time in life when caregivers meet your every need, and you believe all of your dreams will come true. But for many people, this mainstream imagery does not reflect everyday reality.
For many, events that occur during childhood build barriers to happiness later in life. And when you’re still dealing with childhood baggage into adulthood, you start to wonder, “Does childhood trauma ever go away?” Fear not! It truly is possible to create a healthy, safe place where you can thrive.
What is Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma is a traumatic event that happens at the age of 17 or younger before you become an adult. Childhood trauma and its aftermath can look different for each person. It is a highly individualized experience that typically falls into at least one of four Adverse Childhood Experiences categories.
The four main ACEs categories are:
- Abuse. This category includes physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse.
- Neglect. Not providing for a child’s physical or emotional needs.
- Household Challenges. Experiences in this category include divorce, death or abandonment of guardians, serious illness, substance use disorder, or mental illness in the home.
- Community Incidents. These include natural disasters, terrorism, or violence in the community.
The Effects of Childhood Trauma
Your body is remarkably resilient and can make heroic attempts to cope with traumatic events and their immediate aftermath. But, longer-lasting, negative physical and emotional impacts can creep up throughout life.
An intense fight-or-flight response to a particular event often causes physical health risks associated with childhood trauma.
Childhood trauma can increase your risk of developing:
- Heart disease
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Racing heartbeat
- Aches and pains
The body’s emotional response can be equally as strong.
Reactions to traumatic, out-of-the-ordinary experiences include:
- Mood swings
- Withdrawing for society or those close to you
- Feeling sad and lonely
- Feeling disconnected and numb
- Difficulty concentrating
The effects of childhood trauma can also manifest in less obviously connected ways and are worth exploring.
Childhood trauma can lead to adult survivors who suppress their anger. A deeply embedded fear of expressing anger can cause survivors to act out in sarcastic and isolating ways that take their toll on relationships.
Difficulty with Attachment
Those who experience a traumatic event before the age of 3 are more likely to have difficulty forming healthy, meaningful attachments to others.
Lack of Behavioral Control
Many people who experience childhood trauma have diminished impulse control and are more likely to do whatever they feel like in the moment without regard for consequences.
The perpetuation of being a victim of circumstances into adulthood can work to limit your growth.
Experiencing ACEs can put you at a higher risk of substance use disorder and physical and mental health issues as an adult. But to fully heal from childhood trauma, you must recognize that it’s still causing your distress today and seek help.
Does Childhood Trauma Ever Go Away?
Healing from childhood trauma is possible through hard work and support. It often begins with self-discovery and understanding. Confronting your ACEs and the ways their effects have permeated your life can lead to acceptance and a willingness to continue the healing process.
Once you have faced and accepted your past experiences, some habits can help you reclaim your life.
Habits to help you heal from childhood trauma include:
- Distance Yourself. Remove yourself from toxic people. Survivors can learn to remove themselves from those who hinder their sense of self-worth and progress toward achieving their highest potential.
- Reduce Stress. Practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep.
- Seek Support. This practice can help you connect with others in meaningful ways and can provide you with feelings of safety and security.
- Mindfulness. Practice staying present in the moment and focusing on your positive connections and experiences.
- Trigger Awareness. Learn to identify, understand, and control your reactions to trauma response triggers.
Overcoming Childhood Trauma with Integrative Life Center
Childhood trauma is perhaps one of the most challenging things to overcome, but you can learn to minimize its impacts to live a healthy, fulfilling, and happy life. The lonely, scared, shattered child inside can become a connected, bold, and confident adult. Remember that you are not alone in your journey.
If you or a loved one are struggling with childhood trauma, contact Integrative Life Center. Our team of caring professionals can help. We don’t just treat the symptoms associated with your trauma. We work to discover the heart of the issue and help you heal from the inside out.