© 2022 Dr. Willa Litvack
*(For most, trauma began at home.)
In 2013, the Alberta Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE) revealed that:
Before the age of eighteen,27.2% of Albertans had experienced some form of abuse, and 49.1% experienced family dysfunction.
The association between ACEs and poor mental and physical health remained strong throughout childhood and into adulthood, even when other risk factors, such as poverty, were taken into consideration.
Most of us know about ‘fight or flight’. Usually, when faced with danger, our bodies release hormones and produces other changes that boost our ability to act.
Trauma blocks this adaptive response. Instead, the body releases a flood of adrenalinand other neuro-chemicals. The neo-cortex, responsible for functions like judgment, decision making etc., essentially shuts down, taking along higher reasoning and language, and creatinga sense of helplessness, even paralysis.
Trauma also impactsbrain structures and how they function. Changes in the amygdala, hippocampus, and pre-frontal lobeare responsible for the nature of traumatic memories, and the symptoms of PTSD and COMPLEX PTSD
Trauma does not always lead to PTSD. Thoughmost people have some symptoms following a traumatic event,these usually improve quite rapidly. For others, especially those who’ve had previous or repeated trauma, symptoms are mor persistentand develop into PTSD. Seeking treatment early is the best way to get control of symptoms and reduce ‘collateral damage’ in other areas of your life.
Intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions.
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
COMPLEX POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER AND DEVELOMENTAL TRAUMA DISORDER
Individuals with a history of trauma, most notably survivors of childhood abuse, domestic violence, and war, are likely to have experienced multiple traumatic events. Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (CPSD) is the result of exposure multiple traumas. It’s symptoms includePTSD, as well as also disturbances in emotional and interpersonal self-regulation, anxiety, anger, dissociative and avoidant behaviors, anxious arousal, anger management, dissociative symptoms, and socially avoidant behaviors.
Developmental Trauma Disorder. When children are exposed to repeated trauma or a chronic lack of emotional and physical safety in the caregiving environment, it affects their neurobiological development by impacting: