Childhood Trauma and Poor Health Outcomes.

I have spoken to many people who experience poor mental health and have done so for most of their lives. One of the questions often asked is, why am I not getting better. They often experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse and relationship difficulties. Many have spent years in counselling and therapy and yet nothing seems to change. They take prescribed medications, engage in talking therapies, learn and practice Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques, mindfulness, gratitude and the like.

A common and often overlooked (in my opinion) issue for many is that of childhood abuse/neglect. It amazes me how many state that they have never been asked about any traumatic childhood experiences, particularly, sexual abuse. The latter has often been a taboo subject and openly discussing it was considered by many as inappropriate and uncomfortable. It is also possible they were asked and did not feel comfortable sharing their experiences. Or maybe they already have a mental health diagnosis and are being treated based on that diagnosis. The last few decades of research have shown the effects of childhood abuse and neglect on both physical and mental health. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study conducted by CDC-Kaiser Permanente is the most comprehensive study to date on the effects of childhood trauma. The study done in the late 1990’s showed how negative childhood experiences can have a profound effect on adult physical and mental health.

One of the study’s lead authors Dr Vince Feletti gives a brief explanation of the findings here:

How Childhood Trauma Can Make You A Sick Adult

Much of the ongoing research has confirmed initial studies and is slowly leading to a shift in treatment approaches. The question, what is wrong with you? is now being replaced with, what happened to you? It is also shifting the treatment from traditional talking therapies to body-based therapies such as massage, yoga and  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy according to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk. He has been a clinician, researcher and teacher in the area of post-traumatic stress since the 1970’s. His New York Times bestselling book “The Body Keeps the Score” discusses how trauma effects the body, especially the brain, and how new treatments can be integrated into healing the individual rather than masking trauma related symptoms. There are some free resources online for his book and his work, or the paperback version of the book will set you back around $25 and is well worth the read.

For those who love TED talks here is a longer video about the effects of childhood trauma.

How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris

This article is a very brief summary of how childhood experiences can impact in later life and I will be talking about this more at a later date. If anything resonates with you I would encourage you to do your own research or find a counsellor who is trained in trauma treatment.

 

Wishing you the best in your journey

Phil Miranda

Sources:. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9635069        https://besselvanderkolk.net/index.html

PS: I appreciate this article may be triggering for some people. It is my hope that it will be enlightening for many and help explain why traditional therapies may not be working for you. If you are in Australia, you can contact Blue Knot Foundation for support and advice. International readers can follow this link to International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

Don’t believe everything you see

If you have spent any time on the internet you will have no doubt seen the dress colour illusion. Time.com referred to it as one of the illusions that broke the internet. Illusions can be fun but trying to understand the science behind them will do your head in. Studying the science behind them as part of my degree really spoiled the fun for me. I am not going to spoil your fun so here is a link to some of the best illusions, Enjoy ?

The Illusions Index

 

Know your value

Sometimes life can be hard, and we can feel worthless, worn out and damaged. I imagine most people have felt like this at some time in their lives. Maybe you feel this way right now. Hopefully the following story can help you to realise your worth. I can’t remember the original source for this story, so I am paraphrasing and my apologies for not giving credit to its author. Imagine in one hand you have a brand new shiny dollar coin and in the other hand a worn out old and beaten dollar coin. Which is worth more? Sure, the shiny coin may have been handled more carefully and not bearing the scars of the worn out and damaged coin. However, their value is the same. So, if your life has left you feeling worn out and beaten, scared and damaged just like the worn out and beaten dollar coin, just remember your value is still the same. You wouldn’t go to the shop with the worn-out coin and say sorry this isn’t worth as much as a shiny new coin, so don’t go through life devaluing yourself. Your journey may have been harder than other peoples, just like the worn-out coin in the story, but your value is still the same.

Wishing you the best in your journey

Phil Miranda