Some kinds of stress are good for the body, and some types aren't. Here's everything you need to know about "toxic stress" and the role it plays in childhood PTSD.
What is Toxic Stress?
"Good" stress has many benefits for the human body. It keeps us focused and energized, allowing us to complete tasks, achieve great things, or escape danger. However, when stress is prolonged and has no resolution, it becomes "toxic stress"--for example, what a child might feel as a victim of domestic abuse. Toxic stress is unhealthy for people of all ages because it puts a constant strain on the fight-or-flight response and causes the whole system to burn out. However, this is especially true for children who have fewer coping mechanisms and less control over their environment.
Signs of Toxic Stress
Toxic stress can be a big part of childhood trauma and may even lead to PTSD symptoms. Because of this, it's important to understand the effects of toxic stress on a child's body.
When toxic stress is putting constant strain on a child, the first thing to suffer is often the immune system. Kids suffering from toxic stress get sick easier and stay sick longer--and, on top of that, their risk for serious issues like autoimmune diseases is much higher.
Toxic stress can also interrupt the hormones responsible for growth, weight gain, and puberty. This can cause kids to gain too much weight, grow too slowly, or even experience early puberty.
Mind and emotions
The kind of worry, helplessness, and frustration associated with toxic stress can create all types of emotional problems--from anxiety to depression to increased agitation.
If a child in your life is experiencing toxic stress or is showing PTSD symptoms, please reach out to us today. We want to help every kid have a healthy, happy childhood, and we have plenty of tools to help your child and your family.