tree in the middle of a bod of water

For billions of individuals around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many into crisis situations that they never expected to find themselves facing. Each new day brings a new set of news updates – the rising case numbers, new deaths, and increased restrictions on public movement and interaction. This constant state of panic, dread, and stress – mixed with the 24-hour news cycle focused on the burden of death and suffering – can leave even the most battle-hardened individuals facing mental health struggles.

When feelings of grief go unchecked for long periods of time, destructive behaviors can quickly follow. Not only is the virus itself leaving a trail of physical illness, but the mental health implications are staggering. For many, the pandemic has brought on a new experience of mental health difficulty. For others, the increased global health crisis has only exacerbated their mental health issues.

To find hope, a proper understanding of the common and completely normal experiences that occur in moments of grief and crisis can help individuals react and respond when difficult emotions arise.

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tall scenic mountain view

Trauma and abuse during the formative years of childhood are often more prevalent than thought – often because of unconscious repression or intentional suppression of memories. Yet the damage is there historically. Based on studies performed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, of those surveyed, almost 80% of children reported having experienced a traumatic or abusive interaction before they turned five years old.

Only when issues related to the abuse arise in later years will individuals seek help. Sometimes it takes consistent sessions of mental and emotional therapy to uncover that childhood trauma occurred.

No matter the type or severity of the trauma that occurred in childhood, the impact of abuse can lead to consistent and chronic emotional, mental, and physical problems later in life. Direct trauma such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can manifest into problematic issues in the same way that second-hand experiences such as witnessing violence or divorce.

Listed below are four of the most common long-term effects of childhood abuse and trauma that I have seen in adults throughout my therapy.

1. Mental Health Disorders

Studies have shown that the effects of abuse or trauma in childhood can lead to depression in adults. However, other mental illnesses and disorders can also occur due to abuse, including addiction and anxiety. However, smaller-scale psychological problems such as difficulty in conflict situations and consistently high levels of stress can also occur due to untreated experiences of trauma in childhood.

2. Inappropriate or Dangerous Relationships

Individuals who have experienced trauma in their early developmental years will often find it hard to avoid consistent relationships with abusing individuals later in life. Those who fit a person’s unique trauma identity can quickly draw abused individuals into their influence, leading to ongoing trauma and abuse cycles similar to their early experiences. Even unconscious feelings of familiarity with trauma can lead adults to draw near those who exhibit identical actions or attitudes.

3. Inability To Remember Childhood

Those who undergo a trauma or abuse as children will experience a “blocking out” of their early memories surrounding the trauma event. If the trauma is severe enough, entire years may be forgotten as a coping mechanism.

Many individuals who experience blocking phenomena may express feelings of having their childhood “stolen” or cannot connect to their inner-child and early aspirations. Individuals who had a traumatic childhood will often not be able to remember large portions of these years. This can result in low confidence, passion, motivation, and more severe depression or anxiety issues.

4. Chronic Physical Illness & Pain

A physical manifestation of childhood stress can exhibit symptoms such as chronic illness or pain. The repressed memories of trauma can create an ongoing stress experience that – left untreated – will lead to physical pain and a weakened immune system.

I have seen this repression lead to more serious physical problems such as obesity, anorexia, heart disease, etc. If the abused individual turns to substance abuse as a coping mechanism, this can increase the physical experiences of pain and illness.

You Are Never Too Old For Help
The effects of intentional or accidental trauma on children can lead to long-term impacts on their health and well-being. However, simply because the trauma occurred in childhood does not limit therapy’s effect to release and relieve the ongoing damage related to abuse.

As a licensed therapist with experience in childhood abuse and trauma, I can provide therapy to help clients address early year abuses or trauma in a way that helps them regain their past and heal from their pain. If you would like to set up an appointment for yourself or a loved one to speak, I would be happy to talk with you.

Lynn Winsten, clinical psychologist

hands open holding a yellow flower

As one of the leading mental illnesses in the world, depression can cause disruptions to daily life that are incredibly difficult to overcome. Depression often lies just below the surface of our day to day experience, sneaking up from it’s hiding just below the surface to suck away the joy and destroy motivation. Unfortunately, mental health issues are far different from physical illnesses that may go away with time.

In recent studies, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that depression impacts individuals in such numbers that it has become the second leading reason that is reported in leave requests and disability applications. Even the staggering numbers – 15 million in the US alone are diagnosed with depression – are but the iceberg’s tip when it comes to those suffering.

The impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic have only exacerbated the effects of depression on individuals. Shutdowns, closures, and constant fear of the unknown surrounding the virus have led many to withdraw from friends and family and fall into an even deeper illness state. For those struggling with depression at any level, knowing how to find hope and help may seem miles away.

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sad young girl thinking

Because it often happens behind closed doors and not in the open, childhood neglect and/or abuse are very hard to deal with while one or both are happening. Childhood neglect and abuse are traumas that take time and care to overcome or overcome completely. Nevertheless, if you are going through the lingering effects of childhood neglect and/or abuse, therapy could be a good option for you.

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single tree in a field by itself

Loneliness is a common feeling that we all might have experienced at one time or another, but you might be experiencing a more severe, crippling form of loneliness that can make it harder to be motivated, or be social, and otherwise function in your day-to-day life. If you are struggling with crippling loneliness, then you should know that it is never too late to start working on overcoming it and the underlying factors that contribute to such severe distress. If you are ready to start tackling your loneliness or you just feel like you need someone to talk to about your loneliness, then therapy could be a good option for you. I am here to provide you with treatment for your feelings of aloneness and can help you take the first steps to overcome the loneliness you are experiencing.

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sad woman with card over her face

Depression is so common that it likely affects at least one person you know.  Some people are fortunate enough to be diagnosed with depression, but many others suffer without a diagnosis, wondering why they feel the way they do. 

Depressive episodes can be short-term and feel easily overcome at their best, or like life isn’t worth living anymore at their worst. The feeling may only come on as sadness or listlessness, but it may also manifest in ways that may not seem related to your mood, like changes in appetite or problems concentrating.

What depression is not, is something you just “get over.”  Depression needs the attention of professionals like any other serious medical condition.

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