Do you have anxiety or depression symptoms, but have no idea why? Your life could seem really good from the outside and feel there is nothing to complain about, and yet you feel sad, lonely, overwhelmed, or frustrated. You feel there is no explanation for this and thus you may feel even more stressed out. However, you may not even know that you went through some early trauma in your childhood despite the best intentions of your parents.
Early trauma can occur without any bad intent from your parents
Very often anxiety is a consequence of trauma. We often think that trauma involves experiencing something horrible, but early trauma occurs often and in our eyes, it seems insignificant. Babies, on the other hand, have a very limited capacity to handle stressful situations. If parents are unaware of their infant's emotional needs, the baby may feel her life is in danger. It's essential that parents are able to modulate babies' emotional reactions, but this isn't easy.
Therefore, before you start labeling yourself as ungrateful because you don't feel well, consider the possibility that you may have had a very early trauma while you were an infant. And, none of this means that your parents didn't love you. Sometimes it's just very difficult to be attuned to a baby when you are struggling with your own anxiety. There are various ways in which early trauma can affect infants.
Examples of early traumatic experiences that can cause adult anxiety and depression
Your mother or father was traumatized and scared
If your mother or any other caretaker was afraid of something, this may have traumatizing effects on you as a baby. Maybe there was a war in the region where you grew up, or maybe your family went through a difficult financial situation that was stressful to your parents. It could be that there was domestic violence between your parents and your mother was scared. A scared caretaker can cause trauma for the baby. Mother's emotions are transferred to the baby.
Your parents are not able to understand your needs
Yet another way in which trauma may occur is when your mother or any main caretaker is unable to understand your needs during infancy. It can be that the mother was overwhelmed and lacked support during the pregnancy and child rearing and she wasn't able to be in tune with you and understand your emotional needs.
Your parents fed you on a schedule or they let you cry yourself to sleep
With the best intentions, your parents followed some of the expert advice and fed you on schedule. When you are a crying baby, you don't understand the reasoning why your hunger isn't quenched. Babies only know I'm safe and I'll survive, or I'm unsafe and I won't survive. Feeling hungry and not being soothed may signal a threat. You as a baby don't know how to crawl and get some food on your own.
Similarly, some parents followed other experts' advice to let the babies cry to sleep in order to teach them independence. Darica Narvaez, Ph.D. explains how a deep sense of insecurity is likely to stay with children whose parents didn't soothe children when they cried and how this can cause lifelong depression and anxiety that can be transferred to future generations.
Medical issues or surgeries could be traumatizing
Body ailments, illness, or surgeries can be traumatizing for everyone, what to speak about infants. They are unable to express themselves in any other way but crying helplessly. Parents and doctors most likely do their best to protect babies, but this still leaves a mark.
Capacity to handle stress
Although all these triggers are seemingly small, a little baby doesn't have the capacity to understand their proportion. Babies need caretakers to help them regulate their emotions. When a baby cries and doesn't get soothed, she feels that she may die. This is a traumatizing event. When a mother is unable to provide soothing due to her own fears, anxiety, or lack of attunement, the baby doesn't feel soothed. A caretaker can perform all the right actions, but if the caretaker is stressed out and unable to regulate their own emotions, the baby will still continue crying.
Trauma is stored in your body, but mindfulness based body-mind oriented treatment can help
Although your parents did a lot to help you repair emotionally, trauma stays in your body. That's why mindfulness based body-mind oriented therapy can help bring some relief. This is a powerful modality because, besides helping you process your emotions and thoughts, it helps you process the trauma that's stored in the body.
You've done so many good things for others. Maybe it's time to address your old trauma and hurt that prevents you from living a joyful life and enjoying love and relationships.