Tag Archives: Can Childhood Trauma Cause Bipolar Disorder

Effects Of Childhood Trauma

effects of childhood trauma

The effects of childhood trauma can be devastating and, in the absence of effective therapy, can last well into adulthood or even for an entire lifetime.

This website contains over 850  articles, all written by psychologist, writer and educator, David Hosier, BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE), himself a survivor of childhood trauma, on the effects of childhood trauma and closely related topics.

The most well known study on the effects of childhood trauma is called The ACE Study /Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.

The main findings of this extremely important study were as follows :

Those who experience significant childhood trauma are at increased risk of:

  • And, if you explore this website, you will discover that the above list is far from exhaustive when enumerating the myriad effects of childhood trauma.

What Types Of Childhood Trauma Did The Study Focus Upon?

The study focused upon the following types of childhood trauma :

  • Abuse (emotional, sexual or physical)
  • Living in a household within which a family member who was an alcoholic or drug addict
  • Living in a household within which the mother was physically abused
  • Parental divorce/separation
  • Neglect (emotional or physical)
  • Living in a household in which a family member went to prison
  • Living in a household within which a family member suffered from mental illness

NB The study found that the more of these adverse childhood experiences the child suffered, and the more intense and long lasting they were, the greater the child’s risk of developing the problems listed above.

This website takes the ACE study as its starting point and, if you choose to explore it, you can find a wealth of information about :


RESOURCES :

UNLOVED AS A CHILD? | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS  : CLICK HERE

LET GO OF THE PAST | HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS : CLICK HERE


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Types of Childhood Mental Illness Associated with Trauma

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If we have experienced significant childhood trauma and find ourselves having mental health problems in adulthood as a result, it is quite possible that our psychiatric condition was already apparent, or, at least, had started to become apparent, during our childhood. Indeed, at any one time about 1 in 4 children will be experiencing mental health difficulties.

What are the most common types of mental illness that occur during childhood?

The most common mental illnesses that are experienced by children are as follows :

– depression ; this affects about 2% of pre-adolescents and up to 20% of adolescents at any one time

– anxiety ; click here to read my article about childhood anxiety

– alcohol/drug misuse

– hyperactive attention-deficit disorder (ADHD) ; this affects about 10% of children (it is argued by some that it is, however, over-diagnosed)

– separation anxiety (click here to read my article about this)

Also, less commonly, young people can experience incipient psychotic conditions ( a psychotic condition is one in which the individual loses touch with reality/suffers delusions/hallucinates) ; these are as follows :

– early onset bipolar disorder

– early onset schizophrenia

Knock on effects of childhood mental illness:

Sometimes, childhood mental illness can have adverse knock-on effects ; these include POOR EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT and CRIMINALITY (click here to read my article on this).

What factors put the child at risk of developing mental illness?

Factors involved in the development of childhood mental illness include :

1) BIOLOGICAL FACTORS

2) GENDER

3) GENETIC

4) TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) BIOLOGICAL FACTORS :

a) Neurotransmitters – these are brain chemicals that can become disrupted when mental illness occurs ; they include serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters can be disrupted by the experience of significant trauma.

b) Brain structure – with some kinds of mental illness, it has been found that the physical development of certain brain regions have been disrupted (click here to read my article on this). This, too, can be the result of severe traumatic experiences.

2) GENDER :

Whilst girls are more likely to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety than boys, boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with hyperactive attention-deficit disorder (ADHD). This is thought to be due to both biological and cultural reasons.

3) GENETIC :

A child with a mentally ill parent is at 4 times greater risk of developing mental illness than a child who does not have a mentally ill parent. Whilst this could be due to genetic factors, it is also likely to be due to the stressful effects of being brought up by a parent with a psychiatric condition.

4) CHILDHOOD TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES :

The kinds of childhood trauma that have found to be associated with the development of childhood mental illness include the following :

– abuse (psychological/emotional, sexual, or physical)

– neglect (physical and/or emotional)

– parental divorce

– parental conflict

– domestic violence

– having a parent with an alcohol/drug related problem

– death of parent/sibling

The above list is not exhaustive and the effects of the above traumas will vary according to the individual affected and other factors (e.g. childhood trauma is likely to have worse effects for a child who is socially isolated/lacks a social support system/has a lack of compensatory, positive and protective factors operating in his/her life).

5) OTHER RISK FACTORS NOT MENTIONED ABOVE :

– low birth rate

– being born to a mother who is under the age of eighteen

– going through puberty (due to hormonal changes)

– significant changes in important relationships during adolescence

What are the signs that an individual may be developing mental health problems during childhood?

On top of the symptoms of the actual condition, other signs can include :

– psychosomatic complaints (these are physical complaints brought about by psychological stress and include headaches and stomach aches)

– insomnia/nightmares/night terrors/sleep walking

– fire-setting

– torturing animals

– bullying others

– hypersomnia (ie EXCESSIVE need to sleep. NB, it is IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER, however, that it is normal for adolescents to need more sleep than adults, so one needs to be VERY CAREFUL when deciding if the need for extra sleep is excessive – in this regard, expert, professional advice should be sought)

– high risk taking behaviour/dangerous behaviour

– bedwetting at an age when it would not be expected

– extreme and frequent outbursts of intense anger and rage. (NB, again it is IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER that a certain level of displays of temper and irritability are perfectly normal during adolescence. Here, too, then, care is needed when making judgments in relation to this particular problem)

– significantly decreased appetite/under-eating

– significant over-eating/’comfort eating’

– regression (this refers to reverting to behaviour that would normally only be expected at a much earlier stage of development e.g.frequent, extreme toddler-like temper tantrums in teens) Click here to read my article on this.

Diagnosis and treatment :

Expert, professional advice is required when making diagnoses about the mental health of a young person; however, if a problem is diagnosed, early intervention (such as counselling/psychotherapy) can help to avoid more serious problems developing in adulthood.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

Bipolar Disorder – Childhood Contributory Factors.

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Bipolar disorder (which used to be called ‘manic depression’) is a condition in which the affected individual oscillates between periods of severe depression and periods of mania, combined with periods of relative ‘normality’ intervening between these episodes.

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Above – two alternative ways of diagramatically representing the mood cycles  experienced by those suffering from bipolar disorder. Hypomania (diagram 1) refers to ‘mild’ mania. Euthymia (diagram 2) refers to ‘normal’ mood. Unipolar depression (diagram 2) refers to depression WITHOUT mania.

The table below, adapted from DSM (diagnostic statistical manual) IV, first lists the symptoms which may be experienced during the DEPRESSIVE PHASE  and, secondly, the symptoms which may be experienced during the MANIC PHASE.

SYMPTOMS OF THE DEPRESSIVE AND MANIC PHASES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER (adapted from DSM IV) :

DEPRESSIVE PHASE :

EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS –

inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)

self-dislike/hatred

loss of sense of humour

loss of interest in attachments/relationships

COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS –

negative beliefs about the future

negative beliefs about self

indecisiveness

self-degrading delusions (eg. ‘I am evil’; ‘I am the most terrible person in the world.’)

unrealistically self-critical and self-blaming

unrealistic/delusional magnification of problems

MOTIVATIONAL SYMPTOMS –

loss of will power/ability to act autonomously  (sometimes referred to as ‘paralysis of the will’)

strong desire to ‘escape’

wishes for death/plans of suicide (sometimes referred to as ‘suicidal ideation’)

PHYSICAL / VEGETATIVE SYMPTOMS –

easily becomes exhausted

loss or gain in appetite

loss of interest in sex (libido)

insomnia (especially early morning waking followed by inability to get back to sleep).

 

MANIC PHASE :

EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS –

greatly increased enjoyment of life/elation

self-admiring

increased humour

greater intensity of feeling in connection to relationships/attachments

COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS  –

positive view of self

optimism regarding the future

blames others

delusions of grandeur

impaired decision-making

denial of problems/difficulties

MOTIVATIONAL SYMPTOMS-

strong urge to take positive action

impulsiveness

driven

strong desire to ‘better’ self

strong desire for independence

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS –

very energetic / full of vigor /hyperactive

increased sex drive (libido)

lowered need/desire for sleep/ insomnia

DO CERTAIN CHILDHOOD EVENTS MAKE AN INDIVIDUAL MORE SUSCEPTIBLE TO DEVELOPING BIPOLAR DISORDER IN ADULT LIFE?

The research that has been conducted in order to attempt to answer the question posed above suggests that certain childhood experiences are much more common in those who go on to develop bipolar disorder when compared to the childhood experiences of individuals who do not go on to develop the condition.

A study by the psychologist Cohen found that families in which individuals grew up who later developed bipolar disorder were much more likely than average to :

– be different  / stand out from other families eg ethnic minority, mental illness, sudden financial impoverishment

– be very sensitive to the fact they do not ‘fit in’ with other families, with an accompanying acute need/desire to be accepted

– be highly concerned about elevating their social status

– have a strong desire to conform

– have a strong desire to gain prestige (eg through becoming very wealthy)

– insist that the children in the family keep to very exacting standards of behaviour (strongly linked to the desire to be socially accepted).

Another study, carried out by the psychologist Gibson, resulted in similar findings; these were that individuals who went on to develop bipolar disorder were more likely to have grown up in families who :

– were preoccupied with gaining prestige

– were prone towards feeling great envy of other families they regarded as having higher social status

– were highly competitive

– pressurized the child into helping them gain social prestige (eg by excelling academically or in the arts)

Finally, a study carried out by the researcher Becker also tends to confirm the findings above. His results showed that those who went on to develop bipolar disorder were more likely to come from families who :

-subjected them to great pressure to achieve

RESOURCES :

www.mind.org.uk – Information about bipolar disorder

EBOOKS :

cropped-cropped-fire.jpgbpd_ebook

Above eBooks now all available on Amazon for instant download. $4.99 each. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons;MSc;PGDE(FAHE).

Conditions which Often Co-exist with BPD – The Statistics

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Unfortunately, many of those who suffer from the debilitating and distressing disorder of borderline personality disorder (BPD) following severe childhood trauma have the added burden of having to try to somehow cope with co-existing conditions ; these are referred to by psychologists as co-morbitities. Below, I list these possible co-morbidities, together with the statistical probability that a person with BPD will suffer from them. I begin, however, with two quotes from BPD sufferers which help with the understanding of just how serious the condition is :

I have BPD and for me it feels like I’m a child being forced to live in an adult world. I feel too vulnerable and fragile for the world I live in.’

Anonymous sufferer of BPD

‘When it was really bad, I would be in so much emotional pain that suicide seemed like the only way I could find release ; my attempts at overdosing kept failing ; I was secretly screaming for someone to just listen to me and show me a way out, but, in the end, if they wouldn’t or couldn’t be bothered to help me, I would rather be dead than carry on as I was – I just didn’t care about anything, apart from getting rid of the pain.’

Anonymous sufferer of BPD

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CO-EXISTING CONDITIONS (COMORBIDITIES) – THE CHANCES A BPD SUFFERER WILL HAVE THEM :

1) Self-injury 55-85% (click here to read my article on BPD and self-harm).

2) Dysthmia (mild to moderate depression) 70%

3) Major Depressive Disorder  60% (click here to read my article on major depressive disorder)

4) Substance Abuse (alcohol/narcotics) 35% (click here to read my article about the link between childhood trauma and the later development of alcoholism)

5) Eating Disorder 25% (click here to read my article on eating disorders)

6)  Narcissism 25%  (click here to read my article about the link between childhood trauma and the development of narcissistic disorder)

7) Anti-Social Personality Disorder 25% (click here to read my article about the link between childhood trauma and the later development of anti-social personality disorder/psychopathy)

8) Bipolar Disorder 15%

download

Four further statistics of importance are :

Approximately 7 out of every 1000 people suffer from BPD

A shocking 1 out of every 10 people with BPD eventually die by suicide

About 10% of psychiatric out-patients suffer from BPD

About 20% of psychiatric in-patients suffer from BPD.

 

eBooks :

emotional abuse book      childhood trauma damages brain ebook

 

Above eBooks available on Amazon for instant download. Other titles also available. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OR TO MAKE PURCHASE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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