Experiencing trauma as a child can lead to a host of emotional and psychological issues that may not emerge until later in life. Adults who experienced trauma during childhood may experience difficulties in many aspects of their lives. They may not realize that these traumatic experiences are contributing factors to their current issues or even the root cause of them.
Traumatic experiences in childhood can contribute to a multitude of personal, emotional, psychological and behavioral issues. These issues can include but are not limited to the following problems:
- Anxiety disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse
- Addiction to drugs or destructive behaviors
- Problems with interpersonal relationships
- Marital difficulties
- Sexual issues
- Difficulty trusting others
- Problems in a career or at work1
Any of these difficulties may be due, at least in part, to trauma experienced in childhood. The trauma may not be enough alone to trigger psychological or behavioral issues, but it may put the person at an increased risk for developing such issues, especially when stressful or traumatic experiences arise in adulthood.
How Trauma Affects People
Just as every individual is unique and every individual’s reactions are unique; likewise, every traumatic experience and reaction is also unique. Some people cope with trauma in healthier, more productive ways than others.
One person may experience multiple traumatic experiences or have a continually traumatic childhood, but she emerges as a healthy and well-adjusted adult; on the other hand, trauma can seriously damage another person even if the experience mild in comparison. Trauma is subjective: if someone believes he is in danger, the situation is traumatic.
Transitioning to Adulthood
Trauma affects many people — in some way or another. Extended exposure to trauma increases the risk of maladaptive responses. For example, if someone grows up in a household in which there are regular episodes of domestic violence, she may harbor many symptoms of fear into her adulthood. Personal as opposed to impersonal trauma seems to impact people more deeply. Also, the way someone handles trauma may further increase the risk of emotional or psychological problems.
If a parent does not recognize or treat her child’s trauma, the child may be more likely to withdraw as an adult and cope with stress or trauma in maladaptive ways, such as drug use or through avoiding emotions. Making sure you are educated in different signs of trauma can help you protect the children in your life from being more deeply affected than necessary.
Common signs of childhood trauma include the following:
- Learning difficulties
- Developmental delays
- Behavior problems
- Difficulty making friends
- Lack of self-confidence
- Ongoing stomach pain or headaches2
Help Coping with Trauma
If you are experiencing any psychological issues that you think may be connected to trauma from your childhood, we can help you find the treatment. If you recognize these signs in a child in your life, we can help with that too. Our knowledgeable and caring admissions coordinators can help answer your questions and get you started on your path toward healing. Call our 24-hour, toll-free helpline, 844-675-1221, today to begin a new life.
1 “Trauma Types.” National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Accessed August 29, 2018.
2 “Effects.” National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Accessed August 29, 2018.
Further Reading About Problems Facing Adults who Struggled with Trauma as a Child
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton