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How Trauma Can Impact the Brain

teen girl sits on a couch and holds her hand to her head in pain after realizing the connection between trauma and the brain

As parents, our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our children. When something traumatic happens, whether it be an accident, a natural disaster, or a personal crisis, it can have long-lasting effects on our children’s mental health.

At HillsidesCares, we specialize in trauma therapy for adolescents, and we know firsthand how debilitating the effects of trauma can be on the brain. As an LGBTQ+-friendly, trauma-informed organization, we want to educate parents about the impact trauma can have on the brain and how they can help their child heal.

Call us today at 323.641.4842, and we can help your child heal through our adolescent trauma therapy program.

Understanding the Connection Between Trauma and the Brain

It is essential to understand that trauma can have different impacts on the brain depending on the child’s age and the trauma’s severity. Trauma can cause changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters, leaving it in a constant state of heightened arousal. This can lead to hyper-vigilance, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.

Short-Term Effects of Trauma

In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, the brain may exhibit various short-term effects that disrupt normal functioning. The amygdala, the brain’s threat detection center, becomes hyperactive, inducing a “fight or flight” response and releasing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

This heightened state of alert can lead to symptoms including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive sweating (often associated with anxiety or panic attacks)

Furthermore, the trauma might disrupt the prefrontal cortex’s function, leading to difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering details. These symptoms can create a significant obstacle in daily life, affecting school performance, social interactions, and overall emotional well-being.

Long-Term Effects of Trauma

Long-term effects of trauma on the brain can manifest in various ways, often leading to chronic issues that impact daily life. Traumatic experiences can result in the prolonged activation of the stress response, causing wear and tear on the brain, notably in areas such as the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus.

This can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Prolonged anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulties with memory and cognition

Additionally, the brain may adapt to the continued state of high alert, effectively rewiring itself. This may result in a heightened startle response and a constant state of vigilance, even in safe environments. The long-term impact of trauma on the brain underscores the importance of early intervention and treatment to promote healing and recovery.

Types of Treatment for Trauma

There is a spectrum of treatment options available for trauma, tailored to the unique needs of each individual. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often employed, helping individuals to understand and change thought patterns that lead to harmful actions or feelings.

Another effective approach is trauma therapy, which provides an emotionally safe environment for individuals to process their experiences and associated emotions. Finally, other approaches, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or art therapy, can help individuals relax and reduce stress.

At HillsidesCares, we are deeply committed to helping our clients heal from the effects of trauma on their brains. Our clinicians use various techniques to provide tailored care that encourages growth and self-discovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today and get the treatment your child needs.

Call HillsidesCares to Start Your Child’s Healing Journey

At HillsidesCares, we know that the effects of trauma on the brain can be complex for parents to navigate. That’s why we want to assure parents that healing is possible and their child can recover from trauma. Parents can trust that their child is in good hands with our evidence-based therapies, specialized approach to adolescent trauma, and trauma-informed care.

If your child needs support with healing from their trauma, call us at 323.641.4842 or message us on our online contact form, and we’ll help you get started on your child’s healing journey.