Have you ever wondered why some of us enjoy good health and others don’t, even when lifestyle and other issues are similar? Maybe you are eating well and exercising but not seeing results. It could be related to early childhood experience.
Kaiser Permanente and the CDC teamed up to study more than 17,000 participants to assess different types of abuse, neglect, and other hallmarks of a traumatic childhood. This study, called the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE), measures 10 types of childhood trauma which could assess your personal risk for emotional and physical conditions. The higher the ACE score, the more likely the possibility of being diagnosed with heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and autoimmune diseases as well as depression, violence and suicide.
What This Means For You
So there’s more to good health than just diet and exercise. This is consistent with what I’ve seen in my practice. Most of us feel better when eating a healthy diet but health issues can persist, even when taking supplements designed to speed healing. When considering childhood trauma and stress in general, it makes sense that something more is needed for complete healing. I practice what I call emotional detox – clearing away old negative emotions and beliefs that are causing or contributing to health issues. For example, I worked with a woman recently to release the stress associated with a sexual assault that was interfering with current relationships causing her to feel depressed and even affecting her income. Once cleared, she was able to pursue healthy relationships and her income soared. The current trend is to detoxify the body but I think more focus should be placed on locating and removing negative emotions and beliefs.
Taking The ACE Quiz
Click here to download a pdf of the quiz and tally your score. The higher the number, the more risk you have of developing a physical or mental condition. This is not set in stone. Looking at your resilience score is an important part of assessing your personal risk. Resiliency is important because the brain is plastic and can learn to overcome early childhood insults so that you can lead a more productive life and change patterns developed in childhood.
What Do The Scores Mean?
In a nutshell, the ACE test is a measurement of childhood toxic stress that can physically damage a child’s developing brain. Toxic stress puts people in a fight, fright or freeze mode so that they respond to the world as a place of danger. This causes the brain to become overloaded with stress hormones and they cannot function appropriately at school or in life. These kids often try to escape from their depression, anxiety, anger and fear by using food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, inappropriate sex and high-risk sports. These patterns can persist into adulthood.
The results of the study show that about a third of the participants scored 0 meaning they will experience fewer stress related health issues. About a quarter of the participants scored a 1 which could contribute to chronic health issues (see graph below). The remaining 38% scored a 2 or higher which could contribute to addiction, more severe health issues and limited life potential.
If your score is 4 or higher, the likelihood of suicide increases 1,220%, depression 460%, hepatitis 240% and chronic pulmonary lung disease 390%.
Even a score of 1 or 2 can have an impact as shown in this graph from the CDC.
What Can Be Done?
So what if you find yourself struggling with health issues now that can be traced back to your own childhood trauma? Here’s where the value of releasing that trauma can change your outcome. Negative emotions, beliefs and trauma are stored in the cells of our bodies. The key to better health is to release that stress. It’s not about willpower but finding the techniques that work for you. Click here for a list of books that help promote emotional detox or schedule a private appointment so that I can help you find and release old trauma.