Protracted childhood trauma, such as abuse or neglect, can have a lasting impact on a person’s brain and overall wellbeing. However, there are ways to repair some of the damage caused by such trauma. Here are three ways to repair brain damage caused by protracted childhood trauma:
- Therapy: Therapy, particularly trauma-focused therapy, can help individuals process and heal from the effects of childhood trauma. Therapy can help individuals reframe negative beliefs and patterns of thinking, learn coping mechanisms, and develop healthier ways of relating to others. Specific types of therapy that have been shown to be effective for repairing brain damage caused by childhood trauma include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and somatic experiencing.
- Mind-body practices: Mind-body practices such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi can help individuals regulate their nervous system and decrease stress and anxiety. These practices have been shown to increase the size of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive functioning, decision-making, and emotional regulation. Mind-body practices can also increase the production of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which can help to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm.
- Exercise: Exercise has been shown to promote the growth of new neurons in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, a part of the brain important for learning and memory. Exercise also increases the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the growth and survival of neurons. Regular exercise can help individuals to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression, which can be common in those who have experienced childhood trauma.
It’s important to note that repairing brain damage caused by childhood trauma is a complex process, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s also important to seek out professional support from a therapist or other mental health professional trained in trauma treatment.