A Guide to Overcoming Childhood Trauma

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Lost Connections" by Johann Hari. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is the process of overcoming childhood trauma? How can resolving childhood trauma help with depression?

Overcoming childhood trauma starts with acknowledging the problem and talking openly about it with your doctor. Resolving childhood trauma helps with the process of healing from depression since trauma is one of the major causes of depression.

Read on to learn more about the process of overcoming childhood trauma.

Addressing and Overcoming Childhood Trauma

To heal depression, we need to reconnect to our childhood trauma by talking about it. Talking openly about childhood trauma is painful, and it’s understandable to want to avoid that pain. However, research shows that it’s not just trauma itself that causes depression—it’s the experience of keeping that trauma buried inside for years, too. In a way, opening up about past trauma is like disinfecting a wound: It’s painful in the short-term, but it saves you from an infection that would continue to cause problems down the road. 

Acknowledging and going through the process of overcoming childhood trauma can also benefit your physical health. In one study, doctors expressed empathy for patients’ childhood trauma and asked if they’d like to talk about it. As a result, patients were 35% less likely to need follow-up care for any condition. Another study offered patients the option to discuss their trauma with a therapist—those patients were 50% less likely to need follow-up medical care from a doctor. 

This research is only a first step, but it builds on a history of medical research showing that bottling things up because of internalized shame can make people physically ill. For example, at the height of the AIDS crisis, openly gay men lived an average of two to three years longer than closeted gay men, even when they got the same quality of medical care. Another important takeaway from this research is that there are ways to change the healthcare system to help everyone overcome their trauma. If all doctors asked their patients about their trauma history and gave them the chance to talk about it (as they did in the study above), it could drastically improve the mental and physical health of their entire communities.

A Guide to Overcoming Childhood Trauma

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Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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