The lasting impact of childhood trauma on current health

Home » Conditions » Complex PTSD » The lasting impact of childhood trauma on current health

The lasting impact of childhood trauma on current health

If you experienced trauma as a child, you are not alone. In a landmark 1998 study, two-thirds of respondents reported having a traumatic experience in their early years. The study also revealed a link between childhood trauma and poor health later in life.

the impact of childhood trauma on current health

Trauma results from exposure to an incident or series of events that is emotionally disturbing or life-threatening.

Examples include:

  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Childhood neglect
  • A family member with mental health or substance abuse issues
  • Exposure to violence in the community
  • Sudden, unexplained separation from a loved one

The study showed that the risk for health problems from past trauma increases with the number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) someone has.

While it is commonly known that trauma can affect mental health, many are not aware of what it does to the body. Unresolved childhood trauma impacts physical health in two main ways: by leading people to engage in risky behaviour as a means to cope, and by causing physiological changes to the body that lay the groundwork for chronic, stress-related diseases in adulthood.

Behavioural effects of trauma

Any type of early trauma can impact our ability to cope with life’s stressors. This can cause us to revert to poor coping mechanisms that provide instant gratification, including smoking, overeating and numbing painful emotions with substances such as alcohol and drugs. These high-risk health behaviours dramatically increase the risk for many health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, depression, obesity, diabetes and COPD.

Trauma affects everyone differently, depending on the circumstances, severity and length of exposure. Not all children or adults who are exposed to traumatic events experience long-term health problems. Certain factors in someone’s life can help buffer them from trauma’s worst effects.

“Some people are more emotionally resilient than others, whether that is due to genetic disposition or having protective factors such as a nurturing sibling or supportive adult,” explains Candy Elson, LCSW, lead social worker with Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center. “Some are fortunate to have had a counter-balancing protective influence to offset the impact of early trauma, or have been able to get into therapy or receive education about the impact of trauma on their lives. This can significantly decrease its impact on general health.”

How the body changes after trauma

Early experiences with adversity are thought to affect future reactivity to stress by altering the neural circuits that control our body’s natural response. In other words, it can actually change a person’s brain structure, causing an increased potential for fear and anxiety, as well as long-term physical and behavioral health problems.

High levels or prolonged exposure to trauma causes the body to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, activating normal protective processes of fight, flight or freeze. Unresolved traumatic experiences can stimulate these responses throughout life, even in nonthreatening situations. The resulting increased levels of stress hormones can lead to a chronic wear and tear effect on the body and lay the foundation for chronic stress-related diseases.

Help coping with past trauma

If you have trouble coping with past trauma, help is available. Seeking treatment or education from a mental health professional can have a significant, positive impact on your health and well-being.

There are several therapeutic approaches to help people cope and work through their past trauma including psychotherapy, CBT, EMDR, Somatic Therapy and mindfulness practices.

Based on an original article by Sharp Grossmont Hospital Health News Team

Childhood Trauma Resources

  1. NHS Choices – Complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  2. MIND – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  3. EMDR Therapy in Manchester
  4. Treatment for PTSD and Complex PTSD in Manchester

Nigel Magowan is an experienced Manchester, UK based trauma-informed therapist. He is a UKCP Registered and Accredited Psychotherapist who combines psychotherapy with EMDR, CBT, somatic therapy, Focusing, NLP and mindfulness when working with Complex PTSD and childhood trauma.


Comments are closed

Therapy Services

Integrative Psychotherapy
Counselling
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Trauma-Informed Therapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing)
Somatic Therapy
Clinical Supervision
DBT Skills
Life Coaching
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Ericksonian Hypno-psychotherapy
Online Therapy via Skype / Hangouts
Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
Open Public Workshops
Corporate Workshops and Training
Closed Group Ecotherapy Workshops
Ecotherapy / Nature-based Therapy
Outdoor Nature-therapy Retreats

Blog Tag Cloud

Manchester ptsd trauma EMDR Manchester PTSD Manchester EMDR PTSD and Trauma Psychotherapy Somatic Therapy Manchester Chorlton Psychotherapy NLP CBT EMDR Counselling PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Whalley Range Psychotherapy EMDR for PTSD trauma Didsbury Employee Assistance Complex Trauma and Developmental Trauma Disorder EMDR for PTSD Complex PTSD Stretford work related stress Psychotherapy in Manchester developmental trauma Complex PTSD childhood trauma Anxiety Stockport complex trauma PTSD employee assistance in manchester CBT Trauma Manchester Somatic Therapy CBT Manchester EAP in manchester post-traumatic stress disorder

Contact Details

Nigel Magowan
UKCP Registered and Accredited Psychotherapist
Registered Member of the BACP
EMDR Therapist
UKCP Approved Clinical Supervisor
Accredited Therapist Member of Anxiety UK

New address:

Nigel Magowan t/as
Inner Changes Psychotherapy
Spaces
Peter House
Oxford Street
Manchester
England
M1 5AN
UK
Website: www.manchester-psychotherapy.co.uk
Email: enquiries@manchester-psychotherapy.co.uk
Phone: 07463 542368 or 0161 881 4333 (Manchester)

Opening hours:
11am – 8:30pm, Monday – Friday

Payment accepted by cash, debit/credit card, direct bank transfer or PayPal

Privacy Policy

Join my email list

* indicates required
What inner changes would you like to make?