What are the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental Health?

Childhood trauma is a serious and often life-threatening experience that alters how you feel. It can also have a long-lasting impact on your mental health in adulthood.

A child exposed to multiple traumatic experiences can develop a more severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder called complex trauma. As a result, he or she may have more difficult emotions, strained relationships and even physical symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and headaches.

1- Difficulty Managing Emotions

Often, childhood trauma leads to difficulties managing emotions in adulthood. Those who struggle with PTSD tend to have flashbacks or avoid things that trigger trauma memories.

These emotional reactions can have serious consequences. They can lead to symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even substance abuse.

Trauma-focused therapy helps patients develop coping strategies to deal with stress, grief, and trauma healthily.

People who suffered traumatic events as children may experience difficulty forming healthy attachments with others later in life, especially in romantic relationships. They may also have difficulty forming healthy boundaries with those around them.

What are the Effects of Childhood Trauma on Adult Mental Health?Pin
Childhood trauma on adult mental health

2- Depression

Experiencing traumatic events as a child can have a significant bearing on the mental health of an adult. Childhood trauma can make it harder to manage one’s emotions, raise one’s chance of developing anxiety and depression, and potentially result in substance abuse and other significant problems.

Many people who suffered childhood trauma experience symptoms of depression as adults, even if they haven’t been diagnosed with it. In fact, research shows that those with a history of trauma can be helped by therapy for depression and those without a history of it.

3- Anxiety

Anxiety affects a significant number of adults and children who suffered traumatic events as children. They might experience uneasy feelings at home, at school, or in social settings.

Feelings of panic and depressed thoughts can accompany the anxiety. They can also struggle to concentrate and become easily overwhelmed by the smallest tasks.

These negative responses from trauma can be unlearned through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches people to cope with stress and grief healthily. It can help them allocate blame more judiciously, learn to accept responsibility for their actions, and use self-compassion to deal with emotional pain.

Related Article: Anxiety Treatment

4- Substance Abuse

Childhood trauma can lead to various health problems, including substance abuse. In fact, a recent study found that an estimated 59 percent of people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) later develop drug abuse issues.

Substance use disorders involve problematic patterns of using certain drugs or substances, typically for mood-altering purposes. They may be mild, moderate or severe.

Substance abuse can cause serious health issues, legal problems and social problems for individuals and society. It can also increase the costs associated with health care, lost productivity and crime.

5- Anger Management

When a child experiences trauma, it can trigger negative emotional and behavioral responses. These can become chronic and can develop into PTSD.

As with many other PTSD symptoms, anger is one of the most common reactions.

This is especially true if the person believes they have been duped or treated unfairly by the other party.

Often, these feelings are a way of expressing the fear triggered by the trauma.

In some situations, people can calm themselves down by identifying what triggers their anger and using strategies to manage it.

This is called assertive anger. It requires the person to pause before speaking and consider how their words affect other people. A mature approach to anger allows the person to respect their relationships without harming them. 

Related Article: Acute Mental Health Problems

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