Developmental Trauma Symptoms

Here are some of the ongoing impacts that developmental trauma can have on a person. These symptoms will persist throughout that person’s life unless they are able to find some path of healing. Depending on the details and severity of the developmental trauma, some people will have just a few of these symptoms and other people might have all of them.

Shame, the sense of lack of self-worth, even if we consciously know differently.

Fear of connection with others, which prevents us from being able to relax and feel safe and therefore also prevents others from feeling comfortable connecting to us.

The suppression of our life force energy, not being or feeling fully alive, feeling flat, not animated.

An inner backlash whenever something provokes or evokes our life force to show up. For example, perhaps whenever I get really excited about something, and then from nowhere fatigue and depression set in. For people with pain syndromes, this backlash can include significant physical pain.

Hypervigilance – having a significant amount of our attention constantly scanning the physical and emotional environment looking for danger.

Reactivity to others’ suggestions or ideas – huge involuntary protest whenever it feels like someone is telling us what we should do, think or feel, even if they are not actually doing that.

The sense that our needs will never be met and/or an inability to take in the sweet experience of love and care when any important need is met.

Discontinuity of emotion and/or cognition – the sense that I am not the same person from one day to the next or from one hour to the next. Or fragmentation – the sense that I am not all here, I am not real, I am not an identifiable Somebody.

Confusion/distraction/diversion/procrastination, difficult making headway on things, even things that seem straightforward, things that I should be able to just do.

Various physiological problems that are caused by dysregulation in the body and brain. This can include fibromyalgia, digestive problems, environmental sensitivities or allergies, migraine, and various pain syndromes. Note that these problems can have other root causes and are not necessarily caused or aggravated by developmental trauma. But developmental trauma does always cause some degree of dysregulation in the body and brain.

Disconnection from all difficult feelings or from some categories of difficult feelings. For many years I honestly thought I had no anger because it was hidden so deeply. Pleasant positive feelings can also be hidden.

Disconnection from the body. Not feeling pain or other physical symptoms in the body. Or not having any sense of being in the body. Unable to notice pleasant or unpleasant sensations in the body or in certain parts of the body.

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