How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime

Apr 17, 2023

The first 12 years of life are absolutely primordial, and whatever happens in those years, whatever we learn, hear, and experience will become the foundation of what we know to be the truth, what we believe, how we experience our relationships, how we experience life itself…. basically everything!

Trauma can be experienced in childhood in the following ways: physical or emotional abuse from a caretaker, sexual abuse from an adult or older child, being told to be tough and learning how to repress our emotions, experiencing bullying at school or within the home, having an emotionally immature caretaker who overshares about their issues, sexual life and doesn’t respect their child’s boundaries, emotionally / physically absent caretaker, death of a family member from a young age, being adopted or being fostered from a family to another, exposure to violence on a daily basis.

All of these will have long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental and physical health and so will likely develop strong physical, emotional, and energetic symptoms that will persist into adulthood and beyond.

Here are some of the expected effects of childhood trauma in adulthood:

1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is the direct symptom of a trapped trauma in the mind and body which will be causing the subconscious mind to replay the event over and over again as if it was happening in reality and therefore also causes the nervous system to be on constant high alert. Post-traumatic stress disorder can happen after experiencing one traumatic event or more. When experiencing trauma consecutively such as mental/physical abuse for a long period of time during childhood, we may develop what we call Complex PTSD, which is a more complex form of PTSD where the individual will experience all of the symptoms mentioned in this blog. They may experience severe levels of addiction to more than one substance, or to alcohol as well as being heavily medicated because of all the underlying cognitive issues that they may experience.

2. Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are one of the most common issues caused by childhood trauma and PTSD. As we know, the subconscious mind stores every single memory, belief, and imprint of our entire life, when experiencing trauma or repeated trauma, the subconscious mind will keep replaying the traumatic event(s) over and over again which will cause your nervous system as well as all of the systems of your body and your conscious mind to believe you are constantly in danger, this will worsen over time as we go through life and difficulties if not addressed or released. The individual’s capacity to interact with the world and to go on with their everyday life will become overwhelmingly low which will lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

3. Difficulty Regulating Emotions:

Unfortunately, regulating emotions is not something that is learned from early childhood. As a child, we just learn how to regulate ourselves by co-regulating with our caregivers who more often than not are emotionally deregulated themselves. When children experience trauma with caretakers, they will learn to regulate their emotions the same way as their caregivers or to simply shut down, dissociate, or reach out to unhealthy external ways to soothe themselves.

4. Physical Health Problems

Childhood trauma can have profound consequences on our physical health in adulthood. In fact, when we experience trauma at some point in childhood or adulthood, the energy of the trauma will stay in the body, and the subconscious mind will keep replaying the event(s) causing the nervous system to be in constant high alert. This will cause a great deal of distress mentally but also physically. Indeed having a nervous system on constant high alert will tire the physical body over time, causing the systems and organs to be in a state of overdrive and produce too many emotions such as worry, fear, defensiveness, anxiety and so much more. Such negative emotions can also become trapped in the body which will fester in the parts of the body where they are trapped and will start causing tension, organ illness, and even illnesses over time.

5. Difficulty Trusting Others

When having experienced trauma such as childhood sexual abuse, narcissist abuse, or even bullying, our perception of danger will become acute and this will create a feeling of unsafety wherever we are and whoever we are with. Typically a person who doesn’t feel safe in the world will suffer also from low self-esteem or low self-worth due to feeling disconnected from the world and feeling misunderstood and it is indeed a very lonely way of experiencing life.

6. Addictions

Have you ever been told or thought that you have an “addictive personality”? Well, it is most likely not just a personality trait but rather an effect of childhood/adulthood trauma that is manifesting as an underlying need for self-regulation or self-soothing. This is the case with any kind of addiction such as sugar addiction, alcohol, substances, social media scrolling, binge-watching tv, and even the healthy sort: addiction to sports (when exercising becomes the only way to change your mood in a positive way).

7. Dissociation

Another way of unconsciously coping with the pain is through unconscious numbness or dissociation from oneself. This means the subconscious mind and nervous system are so overloaded that the individual will unconsciously find ways to dissociate in order to soothe themselves and survive. here are a few examples of dissociation: disconnection from oneself, not feeling your emotions, loss of identity, disconnecting from relationships, and amnesia (not remembering childhood memories). All of these will be leading to depression and anxiety.

8. Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

Self-harm will be the direct consequence of numbness. When an individual is experiencing dissociation on a physical level, they will experience numbness and therefore lose all feelings and emotions.. this is why they will unconsciously put themselves in dangerous situations, such as extreme sports, or cutting their own skin, in order to feel something or feel how it feels like to get closer to dying. An individual who has come to that point is most likely to experience a lot of hopelessness and very low to nonexistent self-worth.

It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences childhood trauma will develop these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. However, if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of childhood trauma in adulthood, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional who can provide support and treatment. With proper care, it is possible to recover from childhood trauma and live a fulfilling life.

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Welcome, I am Christelle

I am a certified trauma-informed holistic hypnotherapist & and energy worker.
I have created My Holistic Journal to share everything mind, body and spirit related topic from my own lens and hope this will help as many of you as possible on your journey of self-discovery.

Warmest thoughts x