Link Between Childhood Trauma and Depression
Link Between Childhood Trauma and Depression

Uncovering the causes of your depression is one of the most critical things you can do to recover. There are indeed biological factors that could contribute to your depression. But there are several other potential causes too. There may be things in your past you don’t even associate with your symptoms. 

One major factor that could contribute to depression is experiencing childhood trauma. Several studies have revealed a strong link between childhood trauma and depression. 

Of course, if you experienced childhood trauma, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop adult depression. However, because trauma and depression are so closely linked, experts agree that you may be at higher risk. 

Whether or not you remember your childhood trauma or if you’ve chosen to block it out of your mind, your body still remembers. To truly heal, you must partner with a qualified mental health professional to discover the root causes of your depression. While working with your clinician, you may uncover some causes of depression from childhood trauma. 

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What is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma comes in many different forms. There may even be events in your past that you’ve shrugged off as “unfortunate” when, in reality, they were traumatic. Some examples of childhood trauma include the following:

depressed child
  • witnessing or experiencing domestic violence
  • sudden or violent loss of a loved one
  • physical assault
  • sexual assault
  • neglect
  • psychological abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • bullying
  • serious accidents
  • life-threatening illness
  • community violence

Why You Need a Strong Support System

Unfortunately, childhood trauma is more common than you may think. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over two-thirds of children report at least one traumatic event by the time they turn 16. 

The Stop Abuse Campaign focuses on protecting children from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). In other words, they aim to help avoid childhood trauma by recognizing the signs and symptoms that something may be going on at home. One of the most significant indicators of childhood trauma is a high ACE score. According to the Stop Abuse Campaign, those with a score of four or more are at three times the risk of developing depression. (Take the ACEs test here!)

How Childhood Trauma Can Lead to Adult Depression

The link between childhood trauma and depression is complex. But the bottom line is although it’s not a certainty if you experience childhood trauma, you’re more likely to develop depression later in life. 

Childhood trauma and depression are linked in many unseen ways, affecting your mind and body in ways you may not realize. These include the following:

  • Biologically: Childhood trauma has been linked to a change in stress hormone systems that impact your body’s ability to handle stress. Biological changes like this could contribute to your risk of developing depression. 
  • Cognitively: Experiencing trauma in your childhood could play a part in your developing negative cognitive patterns like guilt, self-blame, and feeling worthless. Such profound cognitive changes can contribute to your depression.
  • Socially: Childhood trauma and depression are also linked because if you’ve experienced trauma, you may have trouble forming healthy relationships or interacting with others. You may also isolate yourself more, which could lead to depression.

Experiencing trauma in your childhood may also impact your:

  • Emotional regulation: The development of healthy emotional regulation skills may be interrupted due to childhood trauma. This could lead to difficulties coping with stress and challenging emotions, which, in turn, may increase your risk of depression.
  • Coping mechanisms: If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, you are more at risk for developing maladaptive coping mechanisms like substance abuse to cope with the pain. These unhealthy coping skills could contribute to depression.

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How Untreated Childhood Trauma May Look in Adulthood

Childhood trauma makes a long-lasting impact on your mental health. Of course, how it manifests as an adult varies based on specific traumas and your individual characteristics. You were likely forced into survival mode if you felt unsafe, neglected, unloved, or abused in your childhood. 

As a result, you may exhibit some of the following negative impacts of childhood trauma:

  • Mental health concerns: Not only are you more likely to develop depression from childhood trauma, but you also have an elevated risk of developing anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality disorders.
  • Substance abuse: In an attempt to cope with the challenging emotions associated with childhood trauma, you are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol. 
  • Mood swings: Because childhood trauma affects emotional regulation, you may be more prone to intense mood swings and experiencing emotional numbness.
  • Relationship issues: As mentioned earlier, childhood trauma may negatively impact your social skills. You may experience trust issues and have a fear of intimacy.
  • Low self-esteem: Not only are trauma and depression closely linked, but childhood trauma can also damage how you feel about yourself. You may struggle with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
  • Physical health problems: Unaddressed childhood trauma can manifest in physical symptoms like chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, and stress-related illnesses.
depressed man

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  • Dissociation: This common coping mechanism aims to disconnect yourself from your traumatic memories and challenging emotions.
  • Self-Harm: If you’ve experienced childhood trauma, you are more at risk for committing self-harming behaviors in an attempt to deal with emotional pain.
  • Perfectionism: You may feel driven to perfectionist tendencies as a way to gain a sense of control over your life.

Again, not everyone who experiences childhood trauma will exhibit these behaviors, but if you’re a victim of trauma, there’s a good chance you can relate to many. Depression from childhood trauma requires the help and support of a qualified mental health professional. With the right clinician by your side, you can heal and move forward to live a more fulfilling life.

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We Can Help You Overcome Depression From Childhood Trauma

At BOLD Health, we offer high-quality, individualized depression treatment in San Diego tailored to your individual needs. When you partner with us, you’ll receive compassionate, understanding, comprehensive mental health care. We’ll help you get to the root of your mental health concerns and walk with you through the negative impacts of childhood trauma. 

When determining the proper depression therapy in San Diego for yourself or a loved one, you want a team you can count on. Because our facility is physician owned and operated, we can help you on several levels. Our options for depression treatment in San Diego include the following: 

BOLD Health
  • individual therapy
  • group therapy
  • family therapy
  • medication management
  • intensive outpatient program (IOP in San Diego)
  • ketamine treatment

The circumstances that brought you to our door are unique. We take the time to understand not only your experiences but also your genetic, structural, biological, and medical makeup so we can tailor the perfect depression treatment in San Diego specifically to you.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you get to the root cause of your depression through depression therapy in San Diego so you can live the life you deserve. 

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