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Is Childhood Trauma Permanent?

Imagine witnessing constant violence in your life. How do you believe that would impact your emotional stability? For children who have experienced traumatic experiences, the memories can be long-lasting. It is not uncommon for trauma to lead to anxiety or depression in young adults. In some cases, trauma, anxiety, and depression combined can lead to drug use disorders which may require a teen program for trauma. A treatment program will support your son or daughter in learning positive coping mechanisms that focus on their healing.

What Is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma is any dangerous, scary, or life-threatening event happening to a child up to age 18. Examples of trauma include:

  • Physical abuse or assault
  • Sexual abuse or assault
  • Natural disasters
  • Car accidents
  • Violent military combat
  • Loss of a parent
  • Witnessing an arrest
  • Experiencing an eviction
  • Being threatened with bodily harm
  • Experiencing a hate crime based on religion, gender, or hate

In addition to experiencing an actual event, children can be affected by observing or hearing about someone else’s encounters. While this type of trauma is not as long-lasting as actually experiencing trauma, it can be memorable and have a lasting impact. When children and adolescents experience trauma, the outcome is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health disorder that describes the after-effects of the event. For adolescents who repeatedly experienced trauma, the effects will be much more evident than for those who witnessed an event only once. PTSD can cause feelings of terror, helplessness, panic, and hopelessness. Teens will experience triggers and relive their experiences at times.

What Are the Signs of Trauma in Childhood?

When a young adult experiences trauma, many signs will reveal its presence. Here are a few signs of trauma in childhood:

Fear and Anxiety

Childhood trauma affects a young adult’s ability to stop worrying and live without fear. Often, they will feel like something horrible will happen or something good will leave them. It is not uncommon for young adults with PTSD to feel overwhelmed. Even with routine, everyday life, teens can feel so worried and anxious that they cannot move forward with their lives.


Another apparent sign of trauma in childhood is the need to avoid people, places, and objects related to a traumatic experience.

Rage and Outbursts

Physical violence, screaming, and even threats are also examples of PTSD, as teens need a way of navigating their pain.


When someone is abused, they often feel a sense of guilt and blame themselves for whatever happened.


Often we associate the process of grief with death. However, losses come in many ways. The death of a family member can be stressful but so can losing a home or pet.

Desire to Feel Numb

One of the most significant responses to emotional, physical, or mental trauma is to feel nothing. When this happens, your teen will become withdrawn and isolated.

Nightmares and Trouble Sleeping

When your teen has experienced trauma, they may experience disruption in their sleep. For some, it means they will sleep for long periods, others will have nightmares, and some will not be able to sleep at all.

Childhood Trauma Effects on Social-Emotional Development

Although childhood trauma is not necessarily permanent, its impact on social-emotional development can be lasting. Here are some ways childhood trauma affects adolescents long-term:

  • Young adults with PTSD are likely to be diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or needing inpatient rehabilitation at a rate greater than teens who have not been diagnosed with the condition.
  • Difficulty in school as a result of flashbacks, insomnia, depression, anxiety, lacking confidence, and overall irritability
  • Participating in self-injury
  • Struggling with trust, self-esteem, and self-confidence

Childhood trauma affects so much of an adolescent’s ability to continue their daily lives because of the psychological impact on their mind. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to the signs of childhood trauma so that its impact on children and adolescents is not long-lasting.

Get Trauma Treatment for Young Adults at Destinations for Teens

As adults, it is our responsibility to pay attention to the signs of trauma and ensure that the effects are not long-lasting. Destinations For Teens offers trauma treatment to support young adults so that they learn to acknowledge and positively deal with difficult memories. Contact us 877.466.0620 to learn more about our programs.