Make Peace with Your Past: The Effects of Your Childhood on Your Health

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There is a link between childhood adversity and adult illnesses and disease and we now have research to prove it. The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study is one of the largest scientific research studies of its kind, with over 17,000 mostly middle income Americans participating. The focus was to analyze the relationship between childhood trauma and the risk for physical and mental illness in adulthood. Over the course of a decade, the results demonstrated a strong relationship between the level of traumatic stress in childhood and poor physical, mental and behavioral outcomes later in life. The ACE Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente.

According to the ACE Study site at the CDC, the ACE study shows the link between childhood trauma and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. This includes heart disease, lung cancer, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases, as well as depression, violence, being a victim of violence, and suicide.

There are 10 types of childhood traumas measured in the ACE Study.

  • Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.

  • Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.

  • Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

  • To find out your ACE score take the ACE Questionnaire here or below.

What is your ACE score? For each question that you answered yes to below you will receive a point. The higher your ACE score the higher your risk of health, social, and emotional issues. Adults with a score of 4 or more points are at serious risk.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                                                                                                No___If Yes, enter 1 __

  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: ___ This is your ACE Score.

What is your ACE score?

It is never too late to heal from childhood trauma and make peace with your past. EMDR therapy helps to process traumatic or distressing memories and experiences from the past so that your nervous system and brain can let them go and no longer be triggered by them in the present. Working on the experiences from the past that caused you harm and chronic stress will help you to live a healthier life as an adult. Even though we cannot go back and change what happened to you as a child we can heal form the past and build resiliency now as an adult.

Knowledge is power! Start your healing process using the support of wellness practioners at the Vancouver Wellness Studio. The practioners at Vancouver Wellness Studio will create a health and wellness plan for you that will incorporate your mind, body and spirit. You will receive support from a functional naturopath, functional nutritionist, mental health therapist (EMDR and Somatic therapy), healing massage and personal training for fitness and movement. Start today and increase your resilience to life stressors and improve your physical and mental health.

Lemecia & the VWS Team