Working through Childhood Trauma
Trauma affects the developing brains of children much differently than it does the adult brain. If a child is confronted with constant feelings of danger and fear, their brains can become stuck in a protection mode in an effort to survive. This results in the child growing into an adult who has trouble connecting with people, may struggle with finding a place in society and has difficulty in finding pleasure in life, contributing to a lifetime of mental health issues.
According to a study by the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University Of San Diego School Of Law school, children suffer because of the trauma of abuse and neglect and a lack of protection and intervention. “Almost 680,000 children in the United States were the victims of abuse and neglect in 2013. More than 1,500 of them died.” These statistics are probably low due to unreported cases and other problems gathering sensitive data. Laws intended to protect children are in fact often very hard to enforce. Trauma can be unintentional also, such as caused by death or accident.
Dr. Bessel van der Kolk in a recent interview by Sound Medicine said:
“Toxic stress in childhood from abandonment or chronic violence has pervasive effects on the capacity to pay attention, to learn, to see where other people are coming from, and it really creates havoc with the whole social environment. It leads to criminality, drug addiction, chronic illness, prison, and repetition of the trauma on the next generation.”
While solutions are difficult and trauma is not treated, there are effective therapies that can help to minimize the effects of childhood trauma, neglect and abuse. While a safe environment is the first step, neurofeedback can help people change their brain’s function. Several other reported therapies which research is now proving effective include yoga, CBT, equine-therapy and mindful meditation. Preventing childhood trauma victims from growing into adults suffering with mental health disorders is possible. In addition, many adults suffering from addictions and depression can benefit from the same evidence based therapies.
Victims of traumatic events usually need help at some point in their lives. Talk to a healthcare professional for additional information.