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There is a strong and cumulative link between trauma experienced in childhood and poor health in adulthood.. similarly, trauma experienced in adulthood is associated with poor health outcomes experienced later in life. An individual’s trauma exposure is linked to their likelihood for developing a wide range of conditions that negatively impact their physical, mental, and cognitive health.
Trauma can affect various areas of the brain and can have lasting neurological changes. These symptoms include constant fear, hyper vigilance, difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and thinking clearly, and managing emotions.
It can be linked to risky behaviors. Things like underestimating risk or danger and responding incorrectly, unhealthy behaviors like avoidance, isolation, or dependence, and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.
One study showed the link between PTSD symptoms in veterans and an increased likelyhood of thrill-seeking, sexual risk-taking, firearm possession, alcohol and substance abuse, drinking and driving and domestic violence. These can be directly linked to liver disease and transmitted infections.
Survivors or trauma ay have trouble seeking help with the symptoms and associated health consequences. They may fear stigma or shame associated with the trauma. Survivors may avoid socialization and care as a coping mechanism. Or they may not see how the role of trauma is reflected in their health. Their may be institutional and cultural barriers to reporting the trauma and seeking help. And they can have limited access to person-centered, trauma-informed care.
Medical professionals may not screen for trauma or relate it to currant health conditions. Providing the information revealing trauma in their medical history can retraumatize survivors. Depending on the trauma, a medical procedure or clinical setting can retraumatize survivors.
Some of the physical health concerns linked to trauma are: lung disease, gum disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disorders, endocrine disorders, and reproductive disorders. It also is reflected in anxiety, depression, mood disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, dementia, sleep disorders and cognitive impairments. If any of this seems familiar to you, seek out help. And your local CIL can help you adovcate for the services you need.