Trauma results from exposure to an incident or series of events that are emotionally disturbing or life-threatening and subsequently impair a person’s functioning by causing adverse effects on one’s mental, physical, social, emotional, and/ or spiritual well-being. Childhood trauma can be defined as “abuse (such as sexual or physical), witnessing domestic violence, neglect, accidents, chronic or sudden medical illness, a death in the family or parental illness, substance use, divorce, or incarceration.” Data indicates that one in four children living in the United States experiences a traumatic event before reaching adulthood. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health condition and is listed under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders. It is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event—either experiencing it or witnessing it.” While most people who experience a traumatic event do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), teens are at a higher risk, and children who experience a greater number of traumatic events are more vulnerable to developing PTSD than those who experience a single trauma.
Early childhood experiences play a large role in how the brain develops and functions. A report from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University asserts that childhood trauma can derail healthy development and cause damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan. Trauma and adversity in childhood raise the risk of numerous health problems (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, etc.) in adulthood. Further, the effects of childhood trauma have repeatedly been linked to the development of maladaptive personality traits and personality disorders. Empirical evidence confirms the notion that humans store memories, experience, and emotions on a cellular level, and childhood trauma is no exception. Nevertheless, research does indicate that early interventions may reduce trauma symptoms alongside sufficient and customized treatment strategies, and that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults as early in life as possible can prevent or reverse the damaging effects of childhood trauma.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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