What you should know about Complex Trauma

By Jan Bergstrom posted 08-06-2018 10:59


Complex trauma specifically from your childhood and adolescence can also be called PTSD which is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood. Specifically, I am addressing the traumatic childhood experiences that have a profound impact on many different areas of their functioning. For example, children exposed to alcoholic parents or domestic violence rarely have secure childhoods; their symptomatology tends to be chronic, and is likely to include depression, various medical illnesses, as well as a variety of impulsive and self-destructive behaviors.

In the last 30 years, the availability of books about childhood abuse, neglect, and its impact on the children growing up in these families has been more popular and mainstream. This is a blessing as it is exposing the truth about the cause and effect on how we are raised and what kind of parenting we got that makes a huge impact on our health and mental health in our adult lives today. 

Research is showing that children who have been exposed to chronic interpersonal trauma, growing up in the an environment of maltreatment, with inadequate care-giving systems, are predisposed to alcoholism and alcohol abuse, depression, illicit drug use, health-related quality of life, poor work performance, financial stress, risk for intimate partner violence, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide attempts, adolescent pregnancy, smoking, risk for sexual violence, and poor academic achievement. The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. The original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997 with two waves of data collection. Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors. They found a strong graded relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of dysfunction and death in adults. 

To take this assessment please go to: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/03/02/387007941/take-the-ace-quiz-and-learn-what-it-does-and-doesnt-mean. To learn more about what it may mean for you and its impact on your life health and well-being please go to the Center for Disease Control at https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html.