In the past mental health has sometimes been ignored and even today it indeed carries something of a stigma in certain walks of life and even different cultures. Addressing mental health issues and the effects of trauma is paramount to helping a person to come to terms with what is happening and to recover their health.
Trauma can impact the quality of life for a person and something that happened in childhood can even carry on through to adulthood and affect someone their entire life. Therefore it is important to understand the effects and health implications of someone who has suffered a mental health trauma and to aid them in their recovery.
What is mental health trauma?
When considering what are mental health problems you would think of emotions and psychological effects on a person. Mental health problems can affect mood, behavior, and the way someone thinks. They can make it difficult to process and deal with stress and lead to anxiety and depression among many other symptoms.
If someone experiences a traumatic event then this can have a profound effect on their mental health and cause a range of negative effects. Someone doesn’t necessarily have to be part of a traumatic event either, they may have witnessed one or they could be living in a traumatic environment for years.
How do you define a traumatic event?
A traumatic event could be defined as an event or series of events that put someone in harm’s way or at risk of death. This could mean living in a war zone, witnessing a violent crime, being in a car accident, or being cared for by someone with substance abuse problems.
A child living in a neglectful situation or being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused could suffer from deep-rooted trauma that carries on for the rest of their lives. The environment someone lives in can cause trauma too. For instance, if you lived on a crime-ridden estate you may spend much of your time in fear, ironically in the one place you should always feel safe, your home.
What happens if trauma is left untreated?
If trauma isn’t treated then it can lead to future physical and mental health problems. Someone who has experienced trauma early on might later find it difficult to form attachments, be intimate or cope with the responsibility. Health problems can include cancer, obesity, and other lifestyle illnesses brought on by making poor decisions directly linked to their trauma.
The mental trauma stats show that more than 60% of men and 50% of women will suffer at least one traumatic event during their lives. When compared with some other stats it shows just how common mental trauma is. For instance, depression affects just over 7% of Americans, anxiety disorders – 19%, and post-traumatic stress disorders 3.6%.
This makes mental health trauma the commonest mental health problem in the states and almost certainly the world. Thankfully, many people including children can overcome the effects of their trauma either with time and with care or through treatment.
Can childhood trauma affect adults in later life?
Some children who experience trauma at a young age can move on very quickly. It may only be a few days for some and others, perhaps weeks. But, for many children who experience a traumatic event, the repercussions are felt for decades afterward.
Some adults who exhibit the signs of suffering from trauma cannot remember the actual event clearly or maybe don’t even link the symptoms and the event together. This is where therapy can help a person to understand what happened and to work through their emotions.
If childhood trauma is untreated then it can lead to suicide, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse later in life. Many people will enter into abusive relationships and continue reliving their traumatic experiences through their decisions.
Helping your child with mental trauma
If your child has experienced trauma then you can seek out professional help but it is also much you can do to help them through their distress. A child needs to feel that their carers can protect them and they are safe so reassure your child but at the same time act normal. Continue with normal routines and stay calm. Even if you are concerned about what happened try not to let your child pick up these feelings.
Children are experts at picking up on other people’s moods and if you are anxious they will feel this too. Talking with your child, hugging them, and distracting them by having fun will help them through this period.
The dangers of mental health trauma
Someone suffering from mental trauma may decide to self-medicate. There is a distinct link between a person experiencing a traumatic event and substance abuse and addiction. Alcohol, prescription drugs, and narcotics can be used to alleviate the pain of trauma leading to dependency and an even lower quality of life. One of the key areas of therapy is to stop drug addiction before it even begins. If someone is treated for trauma early on then substance abuse may be avoided entirely.
Eating disorders can be quite common too. Not everyone uses alcohol and drugs to alter their moods. Food is a very easy way to improve the feeling of well-being without having to purchase narcotics or get drunk. Eating disorders are just as dangerous as substance abuse and can lead to anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. All of which affect the physical health of the person in a highly negative way.
Suicide is another risk of trauma being left untreated. Children who experience trauma are two to three times more likely to try and take their own lives than other people. A person doesn’t have to experience trauma as a child to feel suicidal thoughts though. An adult with untreated trauma can head towards depression and anxiety and ultimately choose to take their own life.
How do you spot the signs of trauma and how is it treated?
The initial problem in finding an effective treatment is the ongoing stigma of mental health. Luckily this feeling that mental health problems are something to be ashamed of or shied away from is slowly being eroded. However, it can still be hard for someone to ask for help so it can also be important to spot the signs in others.
Some of the most common signs of trauma are:
- Unusually anxious behavior
- Easily startled and jumpy
- Disturbed sleeping patterns
- Eating disorders
- Mood swings
- Quick to anger and prone to outbursts
- Lack of concentration
- Shying away from affection
These are only some signs that you may spot in a partner or child and there are many more. If you or someone you know has experienced a traumatic event then there is help on hand. Certified Clinical Trauma Professionals are specially trained counselors who are dedicated to helping people improve the quality of their lives and lowering those mental health stats.
Mental health problems in students are on the rise and everyone is becoming much more aware of how this affects people daily. Trauma is so common that everyone almost certainly knows someone who has been affected by it or has experienced it themselves. If you have the symptoms of mental trauma and are struggling to cope then some professionals can help.