So much of who we are as adults is formulated in early childhood years. A lot of the scars of yesteryear play the role of baggage in today’s world. Trauma at a young age can have a lasting impact and cause many adults to adopt unhealthy habits to deal with their past. Turning to drugs and alcohol, battling depression, and struggling with mental health disorders are all lingering effects of a traumatic childhood. Let’s take a look at how trauma at a young age can affect you, and learn some healthier ways to cope with these life-changing events.
What is Trauma?
We all have an idea that comes to mind whenever we hear the word “trauma.” For some, it’s memories of being pushed into lockers by bullies. Others might think of the day a parent died. Some might recount sexual abuse from a neighbor. We all have had our share of “trauma.” Therefore, you can’t define the term simply in black and white.
Trauma is different for each person. Someone who has been kidnapped and tortured might not find another person’s parents’ divorce as something worthy of being dubbed “traumatic.” However, to someone whose parents divorcing is the worst thing to happen to them, that’s a very traumatic ordeal.
The point of this is to shine a light on the fact that in order to classify or deal with trauma, you must not compare your struggles to others. We all feel, perceive and deal with situations differently.
Trauma is a blanket term for a lasting negative effect on a person that may be caused by a number of things across a spectrum of events. We can experience trauma at any point in our lives. However, trauma tends to have the longest lasting effects on those who experience it during childhood. Let’s take a look at why.
Why Does Trauma at a Young Age Last So Long?
A brief written by Harvard states, “Scientists now know that chronic, unrelenting stress in early childhood, caused by extreme poverty, repeated abuse, or severe maternal depression, for example, can be toxic to the developing brain.” More than one million neural connections are formed each passing second in the first five years of our lives. Therefore, trauma prior to the age of five may have a profoundly negative effect on everything from thought processes to motor skills and may also lead to the formation of mental disorders.
With our foundations formed at the age of five, humans must now look to their caregivers, teachers and peers to learn how to interact with society. Young minds are very pliable. If they experience a traumatic event that alters the way they look at the world, it may cause them to see life through a different pair of glasses. The views through these lenses may become permanent as we enter adulthood.
Trauma in Adults
Just because you lived a trauma-free childhood doesn’t mean a traumatic event can’t alter the brain pathology in an adult. Witnessing an unexpected murder of a loved one, finding your spouse cheating, or losing all of your money in a stock market crash are a few of the many instances that can be traumatic to an adult.
Compared to a child, adults are able to process tough situations better. They have more interpersonal skills to see the bigger picture and brighter side of those situations. Having lived through a thing or two, adults know that most ruts in life are temporary and you just have to persevere through.
Our brains are like jelly that hardens over time. We become less moldable as we get older. However, if you really hit a hardened pile of jelly, it will smash. When a number of traumatic events nail a person at once, their ability to cope can become compromised.
Negative Effects of Trauma
When trauma happens at an early age, the lasting impact will rear its ugly head numerous times throughout their life. Here are a number of conditions that are a result of trauma:
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- Drug Dependency
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Eating Disorders
- Stomach Ulcers
For example, these symptoms may intensify when you try to deal with your trauma head on. Perhaps you ran into the person who caused the trauma. Maybe the anniversary of the traumatic event is coming up. These are all unique instances that might worsen the effects of trauma.
How to Cope With Trauma
While you cannot change what happened to you, you can move forward and change how it controls you. That is an important fact to remember. Here are a few healthy ways to cope with trauma.
- Talk About the Trauma
However, “never” is not an acceptable time to be ready to talk. You can’t give into the fear of speaking the truth. Something happened to you that is hard to put into words, but only once you actually do put the trauma into words can you then start to take your power back.
- Gather a Support System
When you are ready to talk, you are going to need people to talk to. Sometimes you’ll need advice, while other times you’ll just need an ear to vent. No matter what, these people need to be a shoulder you can cry on.
Reach out to those closest to you: your parents, spouse, best friend, or even your pet. Know who you can turn to, just be sure to recognize that they will be there for you through thick and thin.
- Go to Counseling
Dealing with traumatic events may seem embarrassing to you. You might be afraid that your loved ones will look at you differently if they found out about something that happened to you in your past. While that is most likely not the truth, you have every right to feel that way. Remember, this is your story.
However, you still need to share the story with someone, and a third party is a great place to turn. Counselors or therapists are great because they won’t judge you. They’ve heard many stories similar to yours, less extreme than yours, and even scarier than yours. That’s right. Therapists have heard it all.
That also means they are highly-trained to deal with your traumatic event. Through their experiences, they may have found effective and natural ways to cope. You just have to realize that counseling won’t fix everything overnight. If you’ve been dealing with this trauma since childhood, that means it took years just to be ready to start fixing the problem. Counseling is a process. However, studies have found that, “The group counseling intervention offered in the (PTSD) clinics may have considerable mental health benefits over time.”
Following a traumatic event, one of the most important things to learn is to love yourself again. Studies have found that yoga and meditation help relieve stress. While doing yoga, marrying breath with movement helps you live in the moment. It takes your wandering mind off the traumatic events that happened to you in your childhood. Subsequently, yoga activates GABA neurotransmitters to release into the bloodstream. These neurotransmitters turns into happy hormones called dopamine and serotonin.
Meanwhile, meditation is like hitting the reset button. It helps lower the amount of cortisol in the system. Cortisol is our stress hormone. When traumatic events take hold of our everyday lives, cortisol is constantly being pumped. This leaves no room for dopamine and serotonin. Therefore, by doing meditation, you are rewiring your brain from delivering sad messengers to happy ones.
- Natural Supplements
Speaking of balancing out the system, that’s where natural supplements can help as well. Many people tend to turn to mind-altering substances such as drugs and alcohol to cope with past experiences. However, this can do more harm to your body than good.
Don’t mask the problems with harmful substances. Enhance your mind with natural supplements such as Tranquilene, which is formulated by using natural ingredients. Using natural ingredients means you won’t have any negative side effects while benefiting from a greater bioavailability of the nutrients in the supplement. Together, these natural ingredients work in unison to create homeostasis throughout the system.
Let’s take a look at these natural ingredients:
This amino acid is derived from green tea. When in the bloodstream, L-Theanine increases the activity of the neurotransmitter, GABA. GABA is responsible for reducing levels of anxiety.
Gama Aminobutyric-Acid (GABA)
On top of reducing levels of anxiety, GABA helps create the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. It also aids in alleviating muscle tensions caused by traumatic events building up stress.
This Ayurvedic root is an antioxidant that helps clear the pathways for healthy, oxygenated red blood cells that regenerate tissues and cells.
The body converts this amino acid into, 5-HTP (5 hydroxy-tryptophan), the precursor to serotonin. Eventually, serotonin can be converted into melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for regulating our sleep cycle.
This natural ingredient aids the body in coping with anxiety. In fact, studies have shown passion flower helps alleviate the stress felt by those withdrawing from an opiates dependency.
Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)
Brahmi is an Ayurvedic remedy for stress. Studies compare this natural ingredient to having the same sedative properties as the pharmaceutical Lorazepam.
Also known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide is essential for the body to turn tryptophan into 5-HTP.
B vitamins play an important role in many functions including metabolism. Seeing as up to 90% of the serotonin in our body is made in the gut, this makes B vitamins essential in fighting anxiety.
With most of the serotonin being created in our gut, Vitamin D3 helps the process happen in the brain. This is important because the brain is the area that is fighting off the lasting impact of the traumatic event.
This essential element is a part of 300 functions in our body. However, most of the world suffers from a magnesium deficiency. Studies have found low levels of magnesium may lead to depression.
Dealing with Trauma at a Young Age
It may feel like it, but you’re not alone. Millions of people are dealing with various levels of trauma in every corner of this world. Don’t be ashamed of what happened to you.
Talk to someone. Get a close support system and a counselor. Find ways to channel your anger through yoga and meditation and take care of your overall health with natural supplements such as Tranquilene.
How do you cope with trauma? Give us some ideas in the comments below!