Our childhood is considered to be one of the happiest times in our lives but for some, it is marked by trauma of some kind. Childhood trauma can be defined as a psychological, emotional response to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience at a very early age. This could be related to the death of a parent, an accident or illness, neglect, or sexual, physical or emotional abuse, or something similarly, often resulting in long-term mental health difficulties, such as depression.
In my experience, it is not uncommon for those who are diagnosed with depression to have experienced some form of childhood trauma and to be identified with multiple psychological conditions that can be long-lasting and often complex to manage. However, there is hope that with the right support, it is possible to learn to manage your life in a positive way.
In many cases of childhood trauma, survivors feel that they are not understood and have few people to whom they can confide in or seek support from and life can become very difficult to manage.
The good news is that there is help for survivors of childhood trauma and healing is possible so people can live a content and meaningful life, achieving their goals and managing everyday life situations.
Although the effects of childhood trauma cannot be removed completely, with the right supports they can certainly be diminished so that life becomes manageable. Part of the recovery process is learning to trust others and seeking supports that are beneficial to you moving forward. Trust your instincts and choose those who take an interest in you and a willingness to support you through your journey or lead you in the right direction of supports.
There are a variety of helpful interventions for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse that are available for support. These include individual and family counselling services, self-help groups and community-based supports that can be sourced in your area. It is important to seek support from services that are highly skilled in their profession and are sensitive to your needs. It is important that they display good professional boundaries, respect and validation of the abuse that occurred and are committed to the role of supporting you through your journey. This can be achieved by helping you to develop skills to manage the trauma, help you to create positive goals and relationships, healthy self-care strategies and skills to manage challenging everyday life situations to assist you in living a happy and fulfilling life.
Depression can be complex and it is not uncommon for those living with depression to feel isolated from individuals, families and communities, feel discouraged about the future and lack a sense of purpose in their lives. Some people living with depression often relate to a sense of worthlessness, loss of interest in things relating to everyday life situations, including work, study and connections with family, friends and the community. I work with clients who say that because of their depression, they often struggle to get out of bed each day, are unable to concentrate, eat or sleep normally and lack the motivation to do anything. This is often exacerbated by social isolation and loneliness.
Some of the symptoms relating to depression that can be linked to unresolved earlier life traumas include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness
- Little or no motivation to do anything
- Disturbed sleep patterns and eating habits
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Suicidal ideation
- Weight loss or gain
- Restlessness and/or anger and agitation
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks
- Low mood
- Sexual dysfunction
- Chronic illness and/or unexplained pain
- Withdrawal from normal routine and relationships
- Feeling out of control
- Social withdrawal
- Compulsive behaviour patterns
- Dissociative symptoms
- Feelings of guilt and/or shame.