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Childhood Trauma


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I would like to see more discussion so I am putting forth a question to all of you, in hopes you will reply and we can get a discussion flowing.

Childhood trauma - does it have any effect on depression? Can it be a cause of depression?

Myself, I grew up in a trauma-filled atmosphere and I have depression. I don't think the trauma by itself caused my depression, but I believe it played a part in shaping the person I am. I believe a lot of my negative thinking habits, my coping strategies, my people-pleaser attitude, and many other qualities developed as a result of my childhood.

I do not blame anyone for this though. It is simply the way my life unfolded. A lot of the time I think it is unfair and I ask God why he allowed me to endure the childhood I had, but there is no solution to the unfairness.

So what is your opinion?

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I guess it depends on how you define trauma, or depression.

I see depression mostly as a symptom. I've heard it called "anger turned inward", and that doesn't limit the source of the anger.

I would guess that many survivors of childhood abuse would experience depression, but then again, I was not a trauma victim but I was fairly depressed at times.

I have met a few abuse survivors here, though. Their symptoms pretty much run the gamut, because there are as many ways of responding to something like that as there are people to respond.

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I like the definition of psychological trauma from the Sidran Institute:

Psychological trauma is the unique individual experience of an event or enduring conditions, in which:

1. The individual's ability to integrate his/her emotional experience is overwhelmed, or

2. The individual experiences (subjectively) a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity. (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995, p. 60)

This comes from a larger discussion of psychological trauma and its effects:


The way I look at it, in my case, I adapted to overstressful events by trying always to do the “right” thing as defined by social convention. This adaptation prevented what my child self experienced as threats to my life – specifically, social acceptance and approval, without which I would be rejected. A child cannot live without adult help and they instinctively know that. I think in my case it led to an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder in adulthood.

The adaptation was so deep that it preceded the development of the “ego” or sense of self, is my best guess. Getting in touch with that required going beneath what I (consciously) knew about myself, too.

Some personality theorists have proposed that “depressive personality” could be considered a personality disorder, too. So I think that childhood trauma could result in some deep-seated adaptations that lead to depression in adulthood.

But "depressed person" does not have to be the person that you are forever. I'm not an just obsessive-compulsive person any more, either.

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Living with trauma throughout childhood can lead to PTSD. Growing up in such an unhealthy atmosphere might play a role in how you cope in your adult life. When there are no feelings of safety it can create a foundation for all types of challenges.

From my most recent studies, it would seem that depression might sometimes be a result of the way we have learned to treat ourselves. Negative self-talk can create a grim outlook with all kinds of distorted thought patterns. If your childhood environment was not nurturing or accepting and your rights were not respected or valued, you might not learn healthy self-care. I'm speculating throughout my post, but it makes sense to me that a traumatic childhood could play a role in challenges and illness, such as depression, in adulthood.

Take care, Stigmabegone.

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I think my childhood had an impact on how my ego formed and the way my ego formed has an impact on how I cope and behave as an adult. I don't think my childhood caused my depression and I don't blame anyone for anything from my childhood. I was a loved and wanted child who just happened to be raised by an undiagnosed severely depressed parent. Today, I have recognized and finally admitted that my childhood did play a part in who I am as an adult. Now I need to heal the little girl that is still in me and learn some better coping skills and just move on with life.

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