Children with Traumatic Stress
Stressful events can drastically impact how children think and feel. While children are resilient and often rebound well, there are times that trauma can leave a lasting emotional, mental, and physical impact. In fact, some individuals may find that they have issues like self-regulation, problems with attention, relationship or attachment issues, or that they are emotionally unstable. Still, others may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Trauma is real and is even reinforced by our body. In this blog, we’ll be discussing how childhood trauma impacts people and how you can work towards healing.
What is a traumatic event?
A traumatic event is defined as an event that is frightening, dangerous, or violent and that poses a threat to a child’s life or bodily integrity. Children may also be impacted by a traumatic event that threatens the life or physical security of a loved one.
These traumatic events can impact the child in a variety of ways. Some of these include:
- Intense and ongoing emotional upset
- Depression symptoms
- Behavioral changes
- Difficulties with self-regulation
- Problems relating to others or forming attachments
- Regression or loss of previously acquired skills
- Attention and academic difficulties
- Difficulty sleeping and eating
- Physical symptoms such as aches and pains
- Drug or alcohol use
- Engaging in unhealthy or risky sexual activity
Why does trauma change your behavior?
People who do not understand trauma often believe that victims can “act normally” if they choose to. However, it’s important to note that the brain literally changes when trauma occurs, and all of the changes in behavior can be tied to the stress response rooted in the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Put more simply, traumatic events impact the nervous system. Your system can get stuck in the “on” position and have difficulty getting out once more. In this case, you’ll be overwhelmed and unable to calm down.
That said, research shows that the biological changes to these areas of the brain wouldn’t occur if there hadn’t been trauma. So, the dysregulations occurring can cause overwhelming and alarming responses. Here are some specifics.
- Amygdala: Your amygdala is an almond-shaped mass that is located deep in the brain. It is responsible for your threat identification. It helps you survive and stay alive. It also helps you tag memories with certain types of emotions. When trauma occurs, your amygdala can get caught in an “alert” loop, which actively looks for and perceives threats. This overstimulation can make it hard for anyone.
- Hippocampus: When trauma occurs, there’s an increase in the stress hormone called glucocorticoid. This kills cells in the hippocampus and ultimately makes it less effective in synaptic connections for memory consolidation. Although the hippocampus is under-active during this time, the body and mind are stimulated in reactive mode and fail to receive the message that the threat is in the past.
- Hormones: Individuals with PTSD often struggle with self-regulation. Following trauma, there’s a constant elevation of stress hormones, and this interferes with the body’s ability to regulate itself. For example, the sympathetic nervous system will remain highly activated and lead to fatigue of the body and many other systems.
And, if this is too much science for you, what’s most important to know is that anxiety, anger, restlessness, panic, and hyperactivity can all come about when your brain doesn’t have a chance to rest following a traumatic event. This often makes it even more difficult for people to handle.
How can I help my child heal?
Any time changes to the brain are brought up, the problem may seem irreversible. But take a deep breath because alterations to the brain due to trauma can be reversed. You can reprogram your body and mind following a traumatic event, and it’s all about finding the right path of healing for you or your child.
If your conference attendees or employees are ready to be truly inspired and reduce the effects of childhood trauma, please reach out to motivational keynote speaker and trainer Derek Clark. He has first-hand experience with foster care, trauma, mental health, juvenile justice, child abuse, and social work. His story of trauma to triumph will show you that every child is worth it.
Visit here www.StopChildTrauma.com for more information about how you can work with Derek.