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What does unresolved childhood trauma look like in adults?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Childhood Sex Abuse |

Navigating life’s challenges can be particularly tough for children who experience traumatic events. As a result, the human mind may repress or ignore such distressing incidents as a defense mechanism.

This coping technique could shield a person momentarily but harm one’s mental well-being in the long run. Awareness of the signs of unresolved childhood trauma can help a person take steps to address the pain and live a healthier life.

How common is childhood trauma?

Child traumatic stress is more prevalent than one might think. Over 66% of children have dealt with at least one disturbing event by age 16. These incidents include psychological, physical or sexual abuse.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also estimates that currently at least 1 in 7 children face abuse or neglect. Over 1,000 youth daily receive emergency treatment for assault-related injuries.

Unfortunately, such statistics and resources were not as available in years past. As a result, adult survivors could have even higher rates of childhood trauma but may be suffering in silence.

How do signs of childhood trauma present themselves in adults?

Childhood trauma’s impact on adults can surface through various indicators. Persistent struggles like depression and anxiety may arise. Other adults may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to numb distressing memories, leading to substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Difficulties in social interactions, low self-esteem and a sense of directionlessness can also manifest. Unexplained post-traumatic stress or acts of self-harm can also be signs of an unaddressed childhood trauma.

What steps can a survivor of childhood trauma take to cope?

An adult can begin to resolve such issues by acknowledging the past events that caused distress. The help of a trained therapist specializing in childhood trauma is a helpful step forward in processing these occurrences.

A survivor may want to investigate the effectiveness of different therapies, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy. A recovering individual should appreciate that healing takes time, and results will not be immediate. Engaging with support groups and others facing similar challenges can help survivors understand what a realistic path looks like.

Of course, no one can offer a quick fix to the devastating consequences of childhood trauma. Still, with concerted effort and genuine support, a survivor can access powerful aids in breaking free from its lingering effects.