In addition to the symptoms listed above, if you have experienced severe childhood trauma, you may have developed symptoms linked to a PTSD, which is characterised by:
- Re-experiencing the traumatic event(s) (e.g. having flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive and distressing images or sensations, and physical sensations including sweating, pain, trembling and nausea )
- Avoiding any triggers that might be linked to the traumatic event(s) and emotional numbing, such as avoiding talking about distressing events and feelings (you may be trying to compartmentalise your feelings in an attempt to forget them)
- Hyper-arousal and feeling on edge, e.g. struggling with relaxation, feeling irritable, sleeping difficulties, difficulty to concentrate and having angry outbursts
A child who has experienced multiples traumas in their life, severe abuse or neglect by their early caregiver and/or has ongoing difficulties may have developed complex PTSD. Research suggests that severe early trauma may impact brain development, cognitive abilities, emotion regulation, behaviour, sense of self and ability to form relationships, physical health, and result in dissociation (mentally separating oneself from the emotional experience). You can learn about it more here (NCTSN)
Living with the symptoms of PTSD can be debilitating. If you have experienced multiple traumas in your life, living with the emotional, psychological and potentially physical consequences can be very hard, especially if you are frequently reminded of the incidents and the memories. People are different and they have different resources for coping with difficult life events. So what matters is how you are coping and experience the symptoms.
In the next post, I will offer some suggestions for grounding techniques that can help with managing if you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, flashbacks or memories.
If you have been impacted by childhood trauma or any kind, it is important that you seek support from those that are close to you and practice good self-care. If you are struggling, professional help can be beneficial for not only addressing your symptoms but also the underlying cause of your symptoms.
The second part of the blog series talks about how our body and brain react to the traumatic events and how normal and trauma-related memories differ. The third part (read here) introduces the compassionate mind approach to healing your internal wounds. If you would like to know more and be updated of my future posts, please sign up for my newsletter on the bottom of the blog page.
If you are looking for a therapist to support you in healing, take a look at my services page here or schedule your FREE 15min consultation and we can talk about how therapy could help you.
Dr Mari Kovanen, CPsychol, is a Counselling Psychologist with a specialist interest in childhood trauma & emotional neglect and relationships. She is in private practice in Central London and Reigate, Surrey. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion-focused therapy. Advances in psychiatric treatment, 15, 199-208.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network www.nctsn.org