It's Time to Get Serious About Childhood Trauma

By Melvin Hayden 


The most potent trauma we face is childhood trauma. While the brain is still developing the experiences we face in life, trauma can cause damage that proves in many ways irreversible. Childhood trauma and the development of post-traumatic stress causes different variations in the volume and surface area of the insula. The insula is a region of the brain buried deep in the cerebral cortex that is crucial for self-awareness and reactions to sensory information.

Image by Marcos Paulo Prado

Children in many cases are expected to deal with trauma in the same tier their parents did, which was little to nothing. This is where the impact lasts for years well into adulthood, and in some cases beyond. We are aware that treatment early on can minimize the effects of PTSD. However, in order to safeguard our children, the first coping skill starts with the adult. Learning how to cope with stress starts with knowing where the stress come from. Then we can process the event that trauma causes in a way where it does not establish long term damage to prevent future mental health issues. Children are resilient and we should give them credit for surviving issues that outweigh their mind that render them helpless. In many cases, treatment is where we see the whole child bounce back from trauma and improve their brain functioning. Trauma in any way can be devastating to our lives and mental health is the lasting result of unchecked trauma. But recovery is possible despite the impact it has on aspects of our functioning. Treatment methods that focus on emotional regulation and building back volume in the brain can be most effective for patients dealing with PTSD or any type of past trauma.

Rest assure that researchers are continuing to determine exactly how PTSD impacts the brain and even the impact of trauma that does not result in PTSD. The benefit to understanding trauma affects how the brain may help create new treatment methods. We can help reduce and minimize some of the painful emotional symptoms associated with trauma through social emotional learning. PTSD symptoms can be frightening and debilitating, so gaining insight into how the brain functions differently may be useful in recovery.

Tools like neuroimaging are used to create maps of the brain in order to study PTSD sufferers. These maps show areas of the brain that vary from normal non-trauma brain structure. Traumatic stress leads to significant changes in brain structure and function that cause the victim to continue experiencing stress.


Vantage Point (2020) Behavioral Health & Trauma Healing Retrieved from