Mental health issues can stem from a number of causes. The same can be said about eating disorders. However, according to studies, there’s a major incline in eating disorder patients who have experienced traumatic events throughout childhood. So, while eating disorders can develop for a number of reasons, it’s important to look at one of the most common causes that lead to these disorders. By doing so, we can hope to address complex trauma in eating disorder patients. And, help women identify effective treatment which can help to address and manage symptoms of both trauma and disordered eating.
Understanding What Complex Trauma Is
Essentially, trauma is any event that can affect one’s physical, mental, or emotional health negatively. When most people think of trauma, they think of singular, traumatic events. But, complex trauma is more than just one event. It refers to the scenario in which a child experiences repeated traumatic events. And, how these events have led to long term side effects that can follow children into adulthood. Sadly, children who develop complex trauma do so as the result of a number of traumatic scenarios that can include both abuse and neglect.
The Symptoms of Complex Trauma
While trauma can occur in many forms and bring about a number of different symptoms in its victims, complex trauma is specific. It refers solely to the trauma some experience repeatedly throughout childhood. So, as a specific type of traumatic experience, it can bring about some specific symptoms. Some of the symptoms commonly noted in complex trauma patients may include:
- Causing harm to oneself
- Distrust of others
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Feelings of dissociation (no longer feeling part of oneself)
- Avoidance behaviors
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol
- Seeking revenge on anyone who correlates with the traumatic experiences
- Giving all power up to any individual(s) who relate to the traumatic experiences
- Issues with self-confidence and self-acceptance
How Childhood Trauma Affects Body Image and Experience
According to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), early childhood trauma can affect how a person sees themself. Often, this trauma results in feelings of self-shame and poor self-acceptance. In another study, the NIH states that almost 20% of eating disorder patients have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetimes. And, how these patients expressed that exposure to these traumatic events has been one of the main reasons for the development of unhealthy eating behaviors. With how severely complex trauma can lead to low self-esteem, it’s no wonder why many of the women who experience complex trauma end up portraying disordered eating behaviors.
Treatment for Complex Trauma and Eating Disorders
It’s unfortunate that victims of childhood trauma have to live with the symptoms of trauma into adulthood and beyond. However, that doesn’t mean that these individuals can’t get help. Fortunately, there are a number of therapeutic approaches that can help address disordered eating as a result of trauma.
Here at Willow Place for Women, we have dedicated our lives to helping women dealing with trauma, eating disorders, and substance abuse. So, whether or not you are dealing with one, two, or all three, we can help to provide the guidance and experience needed to gain healing and insight. With our program, you can dive deep into your own personal experience and discover new therapeutic ways to implement a healing mindset.
To learn more about our eating disorder and trauma programs, education, and therapy opportunities, contact us right on our website. Or, give us a call at 1-888-651-4212 to speak confidentially with a specialist.