We hear adults say that some incidents happened when they were so young, and some will not even remember them as an adult. But Childhood trauma is not that easy. In the United States, more than two-thirds of children are reported to have experienced at least one traumatic event by the age of 16. It is better to do a childhood trauma test to identify them and manage them properly so that the impact can be reduced.
Trauma is an unfortunate part of growing up and it can impact adulthood, not allowing one to pursue a happy and healthy life. It is important to recognize them and provide professional help for the ones who need them so that the ongoing effects of childhood trauma can be prevented.
What is Childhood trauma?
Children may experience events filled with violence, danger, and life-threatening which brings a fear that can never be forgotten. Children’s trauma can also be referred to as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs. The traumatic experiences can initiate strong emotions and physical reactions that can continue to exist long even after the event. The children will feel helpless, fear, and terror.
There are many types of experiences that can lead to trauma. It can be a one-time event like a natural disaster, accident, or loss of loved ones. Other than that there are common issues like bullying and physical or sexual abuse. When they experience such traumas, they can also experience heart pounding, vomiting, or loss of bladder control.
The traumatic experiences can be
- Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse
- Family or community violence
- Natural disasters
- War experiences
- Loss of loved ones
- Serious accidents or life-threatening illness
When children experience these kinds of effects, they may show signs of child traumatic stress.
Symptoms of childhood trauma
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that occurs as a result of terrifying events. The symptoms may include flashbacks, severe anxiety, nightmares as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the events. The children experiencing it might avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. They will also be extremely alert to prevent future traumas and look for signs to find whether something bad is going to happen again.
The children who are affected by trauma will find it hard to focus, feel depressed, have increased anger, act younger than they are, have sleeping trouble, lose touch with reality, be detached, lose interest in activities, and worry about dying young.
Some may also experience, sadness, irritability, development of new fears, change in appetite, headaches, and stomachaches.
Impacts of childhood trauma on adults
Traumatic events will have lifelong consequences for children physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially.
Children who have undergone terrifying events can harm their physical development. It can harm the central nervous system and the immune system. Studies show that when a child experiences more adverse effects, they will have a high risk of chronic disease later in life. They can develop asthma, cancer, and stroke in adulthood.
They can have mental impacts like depression, anger control issues, stress, and psychotic disorders. They can even get dissociated, separating themselves from others. They may experience imagination of staying outside their bodies and watching events from somewhere else, or can even lose memory. As a result, it is found that suicide attempts are higher in adults who have experienced such events.
These events can even make them lose trust or rely on their caregivers like parents, grandparents, and familial or non-familial adults. They believe that the world around them is a scary place and the people are dangerous. So that they will find it hard to form relationships throughout their childhood and adulthood. The adults will struggle with their romantic relationships and studies show that people who have experienced child abuse tend to have less satisfying marriages.
Sometimes the impact the childhood trauma can be more than the physical or mental health. Some will become criminal offenders by the age of 35, whereas some commit offenses that are violent and serious.
Childhood trauma test
The adverse childhood experience (ACE) childhood trauma test is for adults and it is a score summing up the extent of difficult childhood experiences. This includes a series of questions about various incidents that occur during the earlier stages of life. The rougher your childhood, the higher you will score on the quiz.
This childhood trauma test measures ten types of childhood trauma experienced at a young age. The first five will be related to personal circumstances that are verbal, sexual, and physical abuse. The other five relate to conditions within the family. As you answer the questions, you will find the point of every kind of trauma you face. As your score increases, it will show the risks of various types of impacts.
The ACE score should indicate the likelihood of risk and alert you. If your ACE score is zero, it indicates a low likelihood of facing health conditions. They have a low chance of involving in activities, like attempting suicide, smoking, alcohol, using substances, and experiencing depression. If your ACE score is 1 to 3, have intermediate risk, and the likelihood of using illicit drugs increases from 11.3 to 21.5 %. They can be associated with alcoholism, depression, and suicidal tendencies. If the ACE score is above 4, the possibility of social problems, disease, and disability will increase along with early death. The likelihood of increased alcohol and the possibility of suffering from chronic depression will be tripled.
How to heal?
If you have experienced trauma as a child, and finding ways to heal, then there are several actions you can take. You can spend time with people in your life, whom you find to be supportive. Be physically active, by doing some physical activities. Avoid alcohol and drugs and follow a consistent eating and sleeping schedule. Talk to a mental health professional, and they would help you with therapies. Or you can reach out to reputable organizations which help childhood trauma survivors.
If you find someone struggling with childhood trauma, you can support to reduce the impact. You can encourage them to talk about their feelings and emotions. Make sure that what you do to them will keep them safe. Be patient with them. You can send them to health professionals to get therapies and medications to treat their symptoms.
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