Trauma comes in many forms, its effects developing as the result of experiencing or witnessing a distressing event. Yet, what may be unrecognized is the fact that the effects of trauma are actually an injury to the nervous system. Because we can’t see this injury, its severity is often overlooked.
Every interaction you have creates a connection of synapses in the brain. A pathway then develops based on repeated exposure to those interactions. Sometimes, experiencing a single traumatic event can trigger the onset of distressing symptoms. Other times, it is repeated exposure to negative circumstances that elicits injury to the nervous system. These negative experiences do not have to be the same; rather, they can be a culmination of numerous distressing events.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study revealed key correlations between repeated childhood trauma, resilience, and well-being in adulthood. The process of brain development is shaped by many external factors, including environment, emotional cues, and social interactions. If a child is subjected to traumas like abuse and neglect, the structural development of their brain may be interrupted. Repeated exposure to negative circumstances can impede healthy synapse function, and can result in injuries to the nervous system that may take time and professional help to heal.
However, it is important to understand that traumatic experiences and the effects that result from them do not define our futures.