Childhood Trauma and PTSD: Warning Signs and Seeking Support

Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) has long been associated with combat veterans, but trauma affects millions of adults and children in the United States. Whether it’s child abuse or a school shooting, children are no strangers to trauma, and the effects can be long-lasting and continue into adulthood.

At Spinal Diagnostics, our team specializes in physical pain and the emotional pain associated with mental health conditions like PTSD. In the following, we explore how childhood trauma can lead to PTSD and how to recognize the signs.

Defining trauma

According to the National Council of Behavioral Health, “trauma occurs when a person is overwhelmed by events or circumstances and responds with intense fear, horror, and helplessness. Extreme stress overwhelms the person’s capacity to cope.”

What this means is that trauma is unique to the person who is witnessing or experiencing it, but more common sources of trauma include:

  • Sexual abuse or rape
  • Childhood abuse or neglect
  • School shootings
  • Community violence
  • Natural disasters
  • Accidents
  • War or combat
  • Death of a loved one

There are undoubtedly other events that can be considered trauma, but the above gives you an idea of the many different life events that could be considered traumatic.

When trauma leads to PTSD

While millions of people witness or experience trauma every day, not everyone develops PTSD. Whether one develops PTSD depends entirely upon how the person processes the event. In some cases, a person may come to terms with the event and be able to move on while others are stuck reliving the event over and over, to the point where it affects their ability to function normally.

Signs of PTSD

To determine whether you or a loved one may have PTSD that stems from childhood trauma, the following are some of the more common symptoms:

  • Reliving the event over in your mind or nightmares
  • Becoming upset when there’s a reminder of the event
  • Intense and ongoing fear, sadness, and helplessness
  • Inability to have positive thoughts
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Avoidance (of the person, place, or thing related to the trauma)
  • Denial
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use

This list is only representative of the more common symptoms that typically develop with PTSD. The effects of your childhood trauma may differ somewhat, but if your past continues to trouble you, it's time to seek support.

Getting help

Since PTSD usually develops on the heels of unresolved trauma, the first step is to find a resolution so that you can put the past firmly behind you. PTSD is a serious disorder and one that you shouldn’t try and handle on your own.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we describe above, we urge you to see us so that we can get you on the path toward better mental and emotional health. 

To get started, contact one of our two locations in Tualatin or Newberg, Oregon, to set up a consultation. Together, we can help you overcome your childhood trauma so that you can lead a happy and productive life.

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