Post-traumatic Stress Disorder can be experienced for the whole life
Physical injuries heal up; the wound closes and sometimes disappears. Some other times a scar is left behind; a reminder of what touched the body and left a trace of hurt and physical ache. Just as so, the emotional pain leaves a mark – invisible, well-hidden. As such, the body memorizes. It knows your aches both physical and emotional. From childhood to adulthood, emotional scars are a heavy burden that, if not cared for, will always brim beneath the surface, waiting for stimuli to appear later on. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA, childhood trauma is “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful, which often results in lasting mental and physical effects.” During childhood, if one undergoes a traumatic experience, the effects may carry on. PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) is a disorder that occurs after the trauma itself has happened. PTSD can affect anyone; people of all ages and gender.
Thus, and although a traumatic event may have happened during childhood, one can carry it up to adulthood through PTSD in many forms such as alcohol dependence, suicidal thoughts and depression, drug addiction, and eating disorders. You can check our treatment programs if you are or you know someone suffering from any of those.
What causes PTSD
In a study done by Rachel Yehuda, Sarah L. Halligan and Robert Grossman in 2001 on 51 children and 41 adults, the mental health consequences of childhood trauma proved to be the risk related to the development of PTSD in adulthood. The study focuses on the traumatic events that happened to those children and on the adults who suffer from PTSD. When studying adults, it appeared that their childhood trauma happened because of different conditions; parents, early life, external traumatic incident (wars, bombings, explosions…). However, the effects carried on throughout their lives. (Yehuda, Halligan, & Grossman. 2001) Jeanne Segal, late therapist and Ph.D. holder in sociology, wrote about the four main types of symptoms of PTSD (Segal, 2016). First is re-experiencing the traumatic event through recurrent thoughts and flashbacks. Second, comes avoidance of any stimulus and a feeling of numbness. The third is hyperactivity; this includes jumpiness, aggressiveness, and troubles with sleeping. Finally, negative thoughts and sudden mood changes are definite signs that something is not going well, no matter how normalized they are.
What are the symptoms and consequences of PTSD?
PTSD can manifest in plenty of forms. Some are explicitly identified and related to the disorder, while some others are implicit. Suicidal thoughts, alcohol dependence, drug addiction, and eating disorders are some of the important effects.
A study done in 2017 by the Department of Psychology in Florida State University shows that PTSD is highly related to the risk for suicide ideation (SI) and depression. Add to that, SI is only more encouraged through re-experiencing the trauma. (Boffa, et al., 2017). Adults who find no solution or a safe haven tend to seek what they think is a way out. Depression inhibits their ability to think of a better and less severe solution. Said way out is to end the ongoing chain of flashbacks that are sure to bring down the strongest. However, that same end is also to an existing life, tormented but breathing and alive.
Kathleen T. Brady, Ph.D., a university professor and director of the Clinical Neuroscience Division, and Sudie E. Back, Ph.D., an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences conducted research about the relation between PTSD and alcohol dependence. “Early-childhood trauma is strongly associated with developing mental health problems, including alcohol dependence, later in life.” (Brady & Back, 2012). In their paper, they reference a study done by the Centers for Disease Control (Adverse Childhood Experiences) (Felitti, et al., 1998) to prove that the percentage of people with alcohol dependence is higher when they have severe PTSD. They turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, which in turn, snowballs into excessive alcohol use. You can take a look at our alcohol addiction program here.
Co-occurrence substance use due to PTSD
The co-occurrence of substance use disorders (SUD) and PTSD in individuals is not a coincidence. Julianne C. Flanagan, Kristina J. Korte, and colleagues, in their article on substance use and PTSD, claim that: “substance use disorders (SUD) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are chronic, debilitating conditions that frequently co-occur.” (Flanagan, et al., 2016). The article aims to shed light on treatments possible through medication and trials to reduce the symptoms of both disorders. Turning towards any device to forget is yet another destructive means of dealing with PTSD. Dealing with and treating the effects of trauma require professional help and attentive guidance, our treatment program offers you a unique and scientific approach towards achieving your goal.
Eating Disorders and PTSD
Lastly, a less explicit connection is the one of PTSD with eating disorders. Lindsey Dorflinger and Robin Masheb, in their study about veterans with PTSD, explain how they have a high risk of obesity. (Dorflinger & Masheb, 2018): “Higher scores on the PTSD screener were associated with more frequent emotional eating for all emotions as well. Findings suggest that emotional eating is common among veterans reporting PTSD symptoms and that any degree of PTSD symptom severity is associated with more frequent emotional eating.”
Childhood is a crucial period for any human being. Individuals are born as blank canvases. Then comes the first lines that have to be beautiful traces of soft and gentle colorful paint so the canvas can remain whole and not tear up. Traumas are only huge tears and black smudges that can turn life upside down. Early childhood is the basis to human life; take care of that and the child will grow into a mentally healthy adult. If not, disorders like PTSD are sure to ruin someone’s life. Thus, special attention to people struggling with PTSD is a must. Depression and addiction limit life and make it seem worthless in the face of ongoing torment.
Childhood Trauma & Complex PTSD Treatment
THE BALANCE rehab center believes that whatever dark colors might have stained your canvas, there is always room and time to erase them. The brain and the human body are resilient and strong. Trauma can overwhelm you with problems and confusion and you might feel weak and helpless. Yet, we choose to see the strength in you and harvest it to reverse the effects of trauma. The past does not define, nor do the intrusive thoughts and flashbacks that you experience. You are defined by your reaction to these traumas. Trauma is simply an event that your brain failed to absorb at once, an incident that was too much to take in at once. With our help, we can free you of the past and teach your mind that the past is gone and that the important things are all in the here and now. Your family, your friends, your chances, and your happiness, are all still around for you to enjoy. All you lack is the guidance and the “balance” to heal from the Trauma and any issues it causes.
Boffa, J. W., Stanley, I. H., Hom, M. A., Norr, A. M., Joiner, T. E., & Schmidt, N. B. (2017). PTSD symptoms and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among firefighters. Journal of psychiatric research,84,277-283.
Brady, K. T., & Back, S. E. (2012). Childhood trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcohol dependence. Alcohol research: current reviews,34(4), 408–413
Dorflinger, L. M., & Masheb, R. M. (2018). PTSD is associated with emotional eating among veterans seeking treatment for overweight/obesity. Eating behaviors,31,8-11.
Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, et al. (1998) Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults:The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 14(4):245–258
Flanagan, J. C., Korte, K. J., Killeen, T. K., & Back, S. E. (2016). Concurrent treatment of substance use and PTSD. Current psychiatry reports,18(8), 70.
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with Disasters and Other Traumatic Events: What Parents, Rescue Workers, and the Community Can Do. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2020, from h-disasters-and-other-traumatic-events/index.shtml
Segal, J. (2016). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/ptsd-symptoms-self-help-treatment.htm
Schuck, A. M., & Widom, C. S. (2001). Childhood victimization and alcohol symptoms in females: causal inferences and hypothesized mediators☆.Child abuse & neglect,25(8), 1069-1092.
Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L., & Grossman, R. (2001). Childhood trauma and risk for PTSD: relationship to intergenerational effects of trauma, parental PTSD, and cortisol excretion. Development and psychopathology,13(3), 733-753.