Traumatic Childhood Affecting Me Physically?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Over the last year I have been having counselling , I have had a pretty crappy life as I had a traumatic childhood, I was bullied by my family. The counselling has been helping although it has brought things up that I didn’t relise happened and things I didn’t remember that I had buried deep.

Apart from the mental effect this has had, I have suffered from stress,have self harmed etc, I also have PCOS, which is a hormonal issue that alot of woman have, I basically have acne and also my periods stopped when I was 15 and have never come back. I am 30 now. I often get stressed and feel that I am a 30 yr trapped in a teenagers body, cos I have acne etc. I still feel like I am that 14 yr girl at home with my family and have found it difficult to let go and deal with it.

My question is this, is it possible that in some way the stuff that happened to me has affected me physically and stopped me from developing into an adult and this is why it has effecting my periods etc. I know it sounds wierd. Its like psychologically I am still a teenager. I spoke to my counselor and she said it is possible that the years of stress has affected my hormones. she says that from the age of 13 is when we develop both mentally and physical but cos I was having a difficult time it has changed things for me.

Any advice would be great?

A. Psychological problems may be linked to physical problems. The mechanism by which you could have been affected physically by psychological problems is unclear. Psychological problems can affect the body. For instance, stress causes us to secrete more of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol affects the body in many ways. Stress causes hormonal changes within the body. I have used cortisol as an example of a hormone that is directly related to stress. Medical testing would be necessary to determine which if any hormones may be responsible for your past physical problems.

I think you are on the right track. You have been in therapy for one year. Sometimes, especially when an individual has had a particularly traumatic childhood, years of therapy are necessary. It is a difficult process, as you may be learning. Much of what is discussed in therapy is uncomfortable but it is necessary work to grow and to develop into a mentally healthy person. It can be an enlightening process and I would encourage you to continue your therapy. You may find that as you improve psychologically your physical problems improve.

One last thing. If you have not done so consider seeing a gynecologist regarding your lack of a menstrual cycle. There may be a psychological explanation but it may indicate a physical problem. It is abnormal to stop menstruating. It should be explored with a physician. It is prudent to rule out a medical problem.

I hope I have answered your questions. Please take care. I wish you the best.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jan 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Traumatic Childhood Affecting Me Physically?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/01/26/traumatic-childhood-affecting-me-physically/