If you are wondering how childhood traumas can possibly be keeping you sick and depressed, this post is a must read.
Are you concerned about your health? Are you doing all the things your doctor recommends? Are you trying to eat better? Are you even exercising?
But you aren’t getting any better. Maybe you are even getting worse.
What else can you do?
There is some important research that shows exactly how a problem childhood is keeping you sick and depressed. Read to the end for some practical suggestions you can start using today.
The link between childhood experiences and your health
Back in 1985, Vincent J. Felitti, MD noticed a pattern in his obese patients. Many of these patients confided that they experienced trauma in childhood. Dr. Felitti joined forces with Robert Anda, MD and together they began exploring the connection between adverse childhood experiences and a variety of health issues in adults.
The result was The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) which shows a scientific link between many types of childhood issues and adult health.
These researchers looked at a variety of childhood problems, including verbal abuse or humiliation; emotional or physical neglect; physical or sexual abuse; living with a parent who is depressed, mentally ill or addicted; and losing a parent. Other types of adversity such as being bullied or growing up in poverty can have an effect.
They found that 64% of adults experienced one type of adversity and 40% experienced two or more. (Go here to see the survey.)
Felitti and Anda were able to link these childhood issues with a number of adult diseases including, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disease, fibromyalgia, depression, chronic pain, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, lupus, stroke, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Did you have adverse or traumatic experiences in childhood? Are you struggling with poor health?
How childhood adversity is keeping you sick
Note: The information and quotes in this post come from Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal (2015) by Donna Jackson Nakazawa.
Childhood problems continue to affect your body. Research has shown that “childhood adversity damages us on a cellular level in ways that prematurely age our cells and affect out longevity.” Brain imaging shows that chronic childhood stress and family dysfunction “led to changes in the developing brain, decreasing the brain’s size and volume”
There is one serious physical change that is at the root of many modern diseases. Childhood adversity leads to inflammation.
Due to childhood adversity, our stress response system (also known as the fight or flight response) gets stuck in the “on” position. Our bodies act like they are in a crisis or danger all the time. This system pumps out the stress hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. It never completely turns off so you can rest and recover.
“In simplest terms: chronic stress leads to a dysregulation of our stress hormones – which leads to inflammation. And inflammation translates into symptoms and disease.”
Do you feel constantly stressed out? Can any new problem push you over the edge? Do you have trouble relaxing?
What else can you do?
Before you get discouraged, I want you to know there is hope. I repaired my stress response system and you can too.
Here are three steps to get you started:
- Acknowledge that childhood adversity is connected to your current health issues. By taking this one key step, you can begin to heal.
- Learn to calm your mind. Meditation is one of the best practices you can do. You can find books, information on the internet, and local classes. Even a few minutes a day can help.
- Release painful emotions from childhood. These emotions are fueling your damaged stress response system. The poetry of emotion process can help.
How to go deeper
You can get free information on the poetry of emotion process by clicking on “Are you new to the site?” You can get my free report, “5 Lies You’ve Been Told About Health and Happiness.” Look on the sidebar or at the end of the blog. This report has practical steps to help you take control of your health and your happiness.
Remember you can heal your damaged stress response system. It is not too late.