3 Signs of Unaddressed Childhood PTSD

3 Signs of Unaddressed Childhood PTSD

The experience of childhood trauma is not unusual. A recent national study in the U.S. found that 45% of children have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), which is a potentially traumatic event. 

This means that a significant portion of Americans are at risk of developing PTSD from childhood trauma. Unfortunately, many people with PTSD do not receive treatment. 

Untreated PTSD from childhood trauma can lead to a variety of problems, including substance abuse, disability, unemployment, and even premature death. So, it is essential to seek treatment to learn healthy coping skills and reduce the negative effects that PTSD symptoms have on daily life. 

While treatment is important, people may not always be aware that they’re struggling with PTSD symptoms. Below, explore three common signs of unaddressed childhood PTSD, so you know when it’s time to seek help. 

Emotion Regulation Difficulties

Emotional regulation refers to the ability to cope with the internal experience of emotions while appropriately managing the external expression of these emotions. Research has shown that individuals with PTSD have poor emotional regulation abilities. More specifically, PTSD is linked to the use of ineffective emotion regulation strategies.

In layman’s terms, poor emotional regulation can translate into difficulties managing unpleasant emotions. Some signs of poor emotion regulation include:

  • Tending to dissociate when experiencing an intense emotion
  • Having intense anger outbursts when upset
  • Ruminating over negative emotions
  • Avoiding or suppressing negative emotions 
  • Tendency not to use effective emotion regulation strategies, like engaging in problem-solving 

If you find yourself having a hard time processing negative emotions, you may have unaddressed childhood PTSD. Difficulties with emotional regulation result in unhealthy strategies for managing emotions, whether this means lashing out in anger or simply shutting down when upset. 

Difficulties Attaching to Others

The term “attachment” refers to the quality of the relationship that exists between a child and their caretakers. If early interactions with caretakers are positive and nurturing, children develop secure attachments. Children with secure attachments trust that they can rely upon caretakers to keep them safe during times of distress.

On the other hand, children who do not have responsive, nurturing caretakers develop insecure attachments. They do not necessarily feel safe with caretakers, nor do they believe they can turn to caretakers when they’re fearful or distressed.

The problem with insecure attachment styles is that they can follow people into adulthood. Trauma can interfere with the development of healthy, secure attachments, so if you have unaddressed childhood trauma, you may still struggle with an insecure attachment style. 

In relationships, this makes it difficult for you to develop healthy bonds with others. You may distance yourself from others, avoid close interpersonal relationships, or have severe anxiety that a friend or significant other will harm you. 

Ongoing Health Problems

Childhood trauma is linked to poor health outcomes in adulthood, which includes but is not limited to diabetes, heart attack, and functional limitations. The relationship between childhood trauma and poor health is largely explained by mental health problems and poor health behaviors. 

Grappling with untreated trauma can make it difficult to care for your overall health and well-being, leading to poor health and medical problems. If you find it challenging to prioritize your health, and you also experience emotion regulation difficulties and attachment problems, untreated childhood PTSD may be to blame. 

Certainly, genetics and lack of quality healthcare can also explain health problems, but if you show other symptoms of trauma alongside ongoing health problems, it’s worth exploring whether untreated PTSD may explain your medical troubles. 

Seeking Treatment 

Fortunately, if you think you may be struggling with untreated PTSD, there are treatment options available. Engaging in treatment can help you learn healthy coping strategies so you can overcome the negative effects that PTSD symptoms have on your life.

If you’re looking for New Jersey therapy for trauma, Bridge to Balance is here to help. We offer therapy for both children and adults, and we have offices in Hamilton, Voorhees, and Piscataway. Visit our webpage today to schedule an appointment. 








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