Have you ever felt that in certain situations you may react in a manner which others find to be overbearing or non-logical? Others may say that you’re over reacting while according to you your reaction was perfect depending on the situation. In this blog post I will be discussing signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults. Such people are mostly viewed as self-conscious, emotionally unstable and as overly anxious. So read on till the end so that you may help yourself or someone close to you who might be suffering from a case of repressed childhood trauma in adults.
Sometimes, you respond to certain situations, experiences or people in a manner which you do not quite understand. Under such circumstances, you are left wondering if something triggered such feelings in you. This would cause you to consider if you should look into the signs of repressed childhood trauma and adults.
Traumatic events are difficult to deal with especially if they occur during your early formative years. For some people the brain chooses a defense mechanism in which the memory is pushed down into the unconscious so that the person can continue to live his or her life without the interference of the trauma.
Unfortunately, the trauma does not go away. It is just your brain trying to cope the best way it knows. This is done so that you can survive. However, the repressed memories of the trauma may cause problems during your adulthood stages and you may not even understand why.
Before I show you how to figure out whether you are have the signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults, you first need to understand what is childhood trauma.
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Childhood trauma is referred to as a negative experience the child had which threatens his or her bodily integrity or life. Childhood trauma includes emotional, sexual or physical abuse. It can also include medical trauma like car accidents, surviving a natural disaster etc.
Types of childhood trauma
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are basically events inducing trauma which happened or occurred before the time you reach adulthood. There are primarily 10 types of ACE and each of these traumatic experience can harm the person’s ability to function as a responsible adult if they are not coped with in time.
The 10 known ACEs are as follows:
- Emotional neglect
- Verbal abuse
- Physical abuse
- Physical neglect
- Sexual abuse
- Alcoholic parent of parents
- Emotional neglect domestic abuse
- Having family members who suffer from mental illness
- Parents disappearance at a very early age either due to death, abandonment or divorce
- Family member in prison
- Death of a close family member
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How does childhood trauma effect a person?
Childhood trauma tends to impact a person’s ability to form memories. One manner in which this can occur is due to a physical impact on the brain which impairs the persons ability to form and store memories.
There is an other mechanism which the brain might use to cope with the psychological and emotional stress of the trauma. Under such conditions, the brain either buries, alters the memories or completely cuts of the person’s access to those memories. Thus, the person most often does not remember what happened in the past. This is referred to as dissociative amnesia. Dissociative amnesia is a mechanism used by the brain to dissociate a person from the traumatic memory.
The memory loss of dissociative amnesia can either be mild or severe. However, this can impact all aspects of your life. According to the experts, the repression of memories from childhood abuse or trauma is often classified as dissociation. As I mentioned before, this is the brain’s way to separate you from your past and help you cope and move forward in life.
Signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults
It is common to observe signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults like a disintegrated sense of identity, self esteem and confidence.
The other signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults are:
- The struggle to act as a responsible adult in a situation which is stressful and demanding
- Experiencing an uncanny and strong reaction to certain smells, places or sites.
- Feeling a sense of alarm by in presence of certain people and not feeling safe with them around.
- Finding it hard to experience a proper fight or flight response
- Experiencing a repeated pattern of negative or undecided behavior
- Suffering from intense fear of unhealthy attachment in relationships or abandonment
- Preferring codependent relationships of adults
- Experiencing emotions which are bubbling up to the point of feeling exhausted
- Suffering from anxiety and panic attacks in specific situations
- Finding it very difficult to control their emotions or anger.
Let’s understand a few of these symptoms in detail
Experiencing a unexplained and strong reaction towards certain people
Has it ever happened with you, that you meet someone and immediately dislike them? This feeling can be a symptom that you have repressed childhood trauma. You may not be aware but your mind and body is trying to warn you to stay away from that person and telling you that the person isn’t safe even if you do not know them personally. Due to this, your body may move into a more protective posture or you might just want to leave that person on the place. If you have such kind of reactions to a certain people, it is an indication that these people remind you of someone who is responsible for your childhood trauma.
The absence of the feeling of safety in certain places
It has been observed that certain places can induce the repressed feelings of anxiety, fear or stress in an individual who have repressed their childhood traumatic memories. When a person experiences a traumatic event, the brain makes takes note of everything in the surrounding like the colors, sounds as well as smells. If you are in a place that is similar to where your childhood trauma took place, this new place may trigger that deep-seated fear and shift your body into a fight or flight response.
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Sudden and extreme shifts in emotions
Sometimes getting a handle on your emotion is difficult in people who are normal and not suffering from any mental health issues. This problem can be even more pronounced in people who suffer from repressed childhood trauma. So, if you are struggling with sudden emotional shifts, it could be a sign that you have a case of repressed childhood trauma.
If you have had a few instances of adverse childhood experiences, they can cause you to go from a relaxed state of mind to a mind which is suddenly filled with fear or anger, all in response to something very small. Most often such changes happen because some small thing reminds the brain of a specific aspect of the repressed childhood trauma.
Issues with attachment
A lot of people who suffer from adverse childhood experiences have a fear of being abandoned. The attachment issues may occur because of absence of parents or absence is parental love and warmth. You may realize that you become intensely attached to people in your life and you’re always afraid of them moving or leaving you. You may feel afraid or anxious even if your partner is going out with a friend for a few hours or going out of town for a few days. The constant thought in your mind would either be what if your loved one gets into an accident or what if your loved one abandons you and never comes back?
Anxiety issues is one of the very common symptoms of repressed childhood trauma in adults. Anxiety is something which we all have to cope with during our lifetime. However, those who suffer from repressed childhood memories also experience an increased level of anxiety compare to others. To deal with these issues, one must start uncovering the repressed childhood trauma with the guidance of a mental healthcare professional. Eventually, you will be able to understand how the anxiety is rooted in your traumatic event. The therapist can help you work through that and recover from your anxiety issues.
A lot of people have their moments of childish outbursts and immaturity. However, if this starts to happen frequently and you realize that you are starting to regress into your childlike state more often than usual, this might be a way of your brain through to cope with your adverse childhood traumatic experiences. Childish reactions can manifest themselves in many forms like throwing tantrums, being stubborn about things which don’t really matter, or using a childlike voice to talk. If this behaviour happens regularly, it is indicated that you have locked memories which are hindering your behaviour.
|Signs of repressed childhood trauma in adults|
Feeling a constant exhaustion
Exhaustion is another common part of our daily life. However, if you start to feel exhausted all the time and realize that you don’t have any emotional or mental energy left to deal with anything, it may be a symptom of repressed childhood trauma in adults. Your repressed traumatic childhood memories is what your brain spends a lot of emotional and mental energy on and that is why you do not have any mental or emotional energy left in you to deal with your daily life. This makes it difficult to form new relationships or connect with people who are already existing in your life.
Inability to combat every day stress
Life is full of stress. All of us know that. Dealing with stress on a daily basis is a core part of being an adult. However, if this stress seems too hard to handle or if you start to lash out at the small every day issues of your life, it may be a sign of repressed childhood trauma in adults. You start to throw tantrums when the smallest of the things are not going your way or you start to lash out at others and behave like a child. This is the brain’s way of protecting you by regressing you to the original state in which you were when the trauma occurred.
You start to notice patterns
We all want validation for the good work we do. However, people who have suffered from repressed childhood trauma most often have emotionally unfulfilling parents due to which these people strive to look for validation in their relationships. They also land up in the relationships with a partner who exhibits the same behavior which was exhibited by the parents or guardian. This pattern continues with every relationship without the person realizing it.
We all get angry at some point or the other. Anger can be released in a healthy manner by taking a walk in nature, talking to your friend etc. However, if you regularly find yourself getting angry on small things or behaving in such a way in rage that it starts affecting your interpersonal relationships, it may be a sign of repressed childhood trauma in adults. Anger is an indication of the repressed trauma.
If, for no reason you suddenly start to feel depressed and angry at the world, you feel that nobody cares about you and you are a burden to everyone. However, nothing in the recent events have occurred which would which should make you feel this way, you need to understand that this is the sign of a place childhood trauma in adults.
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How to help someone if they are suffering from a case of repressing childhood trauma in adults?
If you feel that you are suffering from a case of repressed childhood trauma, it is best if you immediately get a consultation with a psychologist or a mental healthcare professional. Do not delay this, as the symptoms will only increase in future.
Therapy can be a great option to help you overcome the symptoms of repressed childhood trauma as an adult. However, you must make sure that the therapist you have chosen specializes in dealing with childhood trauma and has a proper understanding of the same.
A professionally equipped, patient as well as an empathetic therapist will help you properly navigate through your emotions, deal with the trauma and come out of it as a stronger individual. The following are a few treatments which are used to help patients who are dealing with repressed childhood trauma as adults.
Narrative exposure therapy
This therapy session is usually short-term and aims at putting the individual’s life into context. It focuses primarily on encouraging a better understanding of the life experiences and the thought processes of the person. This helps the person to cultivate a deeper understanding of where their traumatic memory actually comes from. This treatment is most often effective for those people who exhibit signs of repressed childhood trauma due to multiple instances in the past.
CBT focused on trauma
Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT is a therapy mode which is specifically focused on the trauma person has experienced. This therapy helps the person become aware of the traumatic experience. The therapist guides the person in the right manner and fixes any negative thought patterns, behavior and connotations which may have been associated with the trauma.
Trauma focused CBT therapy has been observed to have a good success rate in case of adults and adolescents who are suffering from repressed childhood trauma.
Cognitive processing therapy
This type of therapy is most often employed on patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders. The primary aim of this therapeutic approach is to re-define and rationalize the traumatic experience for the victim. This therapy has been observed to be very effective for children who have gone through abuse or are victims of sexual assault.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing approach
This approach uses a therapeutic technique where the patient is asked to recall the traumatic event while moving their eyes from one side to the other in a rhythmic manner. This therapeutic approach has been observed to be very effective for those who are dealing with long-standing PTSD. The therapy sessions have been observed to reduce the negative effects of PTSD.
Prolonged exposure therapy
This is a therapy which uses a gradual approach method to understand the memories and the feelings associated with the trauma. The therapist works with the patient to help them confront their fears and understand that the queues which are related to trauma are no longer dangerous to them. This treatment plan has been observed to have a lot of success with patients who suffer from PTSD related depression as well anxiety disorders.
The first thing that is taught to the patient is that the trauma does not define them or dominate their life. It is difficult but not impossible to accept that the person is a survivor. This therapy has been observed to drastically improve the quality of life of the person.
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When a person thinks of childhood, it should ignite the feelings of bliss, playfulness, innocence and good memories in the person. However, this is very far from the real world. Most of us have suffered from one or the other kind of childhood traumatic experience during our formative years. Therefore, if you notice any signs of repressed childhood trauma in yourself or your friends, you should advise them to get therapy.
If you feel that you may have repressed childhood trauma, consult a therapist. Do not try to diagnose it yourself,. Every person has a different reaction to their childhood trauma. Share your problems with your loved ones and get an appointment with a psychologist as soon as you can. The faster you get treated for your childhood trauma, the sooner your life can become normal. Our negative experiences as children can lead to a fractured sense of self-confidence and self-esteem during adulthood. Therefore it is very essential to get this issues addressed as soon as you can.
What are your thoughts on signs of oppressed childhood trauma in adult? If you have any queries pertaining to this blog post or any other blog post, feel free to mention them in the comment section below. You can also contact me on any of my social media channels. I will be very happy to help.
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Frequently asked questions
What does childhood trauma look like in adults?
Childhood trauma in case of adults can have a negative impact on their relationships, self-esteem and self-confidence. They may experience feelings of shame, guilt and loneliness. People who suffer from childhood trauma also feel disconnected from others and are more prone to stress, anxiety as well as depression.
How can you tell if you have repressed memories?
If you feel any of the following symptoms in yourself, you may be suffering from a case of repressed childhood trauma in adults
- Low self-confidence
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- A feeling of extreme loneliness
- A sense of detachment from others
- Certain situations or people cause you to go into a flight or fight response
- Unstable emotions
- Anger issues
- Aggression issues without any reason
- Constant fear of abandonment.
If you feel that you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, have a discussion with your loved one and get a consultation with the therapist as soon as possible.
What happens if a childhood trauma is not resolved?
In case if the child trauma is not resolved, it can lead to multiple behavioral issues in the adulthood stages of the person like
- Anxiety or constantly being in the state of alert
- Depression disorders
- Having nightmares or insomnia
- Loss of appetite or changes in eating habits
- Emotional exhaustion
- Constantly feeling stressed
- Staying isolated from others
- Suicidal thoughts