The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), a 25-year study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, found that as the number of childhood stressors increased so did the risk for various health problems. The childhood stressors studied in ACE were:
- Physical or emotional neglect,
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse,
- Alcohol, substance abuse or mental illness within the household,
- Parental absence due to divorce, separation, incarceration.
Follow-up studies indicated that common childhood stressors can also increase the risk of health conditions in adults. These include stressors like the death of a loved one, living with someone struggling with a serious physical or mental condition, being bullied, being in a car accident, the death of a parent, sibling or grandparent, being born prematurely, having a difficult relationship with a parent, and many others. Researchers have found a correlation between childhood adversity and adult behaviors and health issues such as:
- Alcohol abuse or illicit drug use
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Depression and anxiety
- Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and brain fog
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Health-related quality of life
- Immune system disorders – rheumatoid arthritis, lupus & multiple sclerosis
- Ischemic heart disease (IHD) & stroke
- Liver disease
- Multiple sexual partners and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Suicide attempts
- Early initiation of smoking
- Early initiation of sexual activity, adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancies.
Trauma, whether it originated from a single event or from adverse childhood experiences, can keep the nervous system locked in a hypervigilant, overactive state.
In response to a perceived threat, the body produces and releases the hormones cortisol and adrenaline while increasing blood pressure and blood sugar to help initiate the fight, flight, or freeze response necessary for self-protection.
But persistent stress and feelings of unsafety can lead to chronically high levels of these hormones, creating long term health challenges. Consistently high blood sugar increases the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure is linked to heart disease. Stress on the immune system can lead to inflammation in the body and inflammation may be related to chronic illness.
While there may be many causes and conditions related to chronic health issues, decreasing the level of stress hormone in the body can help heal the body.
Somatic and NeuroAffective Relational Model (NARM) therapies, HeartMath and meditation can help to address the dysregulation set into motion by Complex Post-Traumatic Stress in childhood and traumatic events experienced in adulthood.
The comfort, connection, and safety provided by a compassionate presence can help you face the challenges and negative emotions related to living with a chronic illness. By feeling difficult emotions instead of stuffing them down, pain can be transformed into strength and resiliency.
The services offered are not medical treatment or psychological therapy, and are not performed by a medical professional. Please consult with your doctor or therapist to determine if mindfulness, MindBody Therapy, NARM or Somatic Experiencing® is right for you.