Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) Study-Physical Problems Due to Unresolved Trauma
How scary is this? From 1995-1997, Kaiser Permanente, a huge hospital in Southern California studied over 17,000 patients for this study. It asked questions about abuse and neglect that these patients may have received as a child such as: emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc. What the study found was that people who were abused or neglected emotionally as children had a whole host of medical problems as adults.
These “events” made their brains develop differently than people who didn’t have abuse or neglect in childhood. This resulted in problems with thinking, socializing, and emotions. This led to risky health behaviors such as poor dietary and exercise habits, eating disorders, ignoring illness, addiction, and general bad self-care. Ignoring health led to in increased number of serious medical diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and so on. It also resulted in social problems such as not being able to get along with others, having a poor support system (if any), and mental illness. This all results in early death due to complications of all of these issues.
It is normal for children to numb themselves or forget that abuse and neglect occurred. As adults those memories may break through and we may start to recall more than we want to. As we age many people try to distance or numb themselves from these thoughts, feelings and memories by “self medicating,” and abusing food (eating disorders), alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, or other things.
“ Persons who had experienced four or more categories of childhood exposure, compared to those who had experienced none, had 4- to 12-fold increased health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempt; a 2- to 4-fold increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, ≥50 sexual intercourse partners, and sexually transmitted disease; and a 1.4- to 1.6-fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity. The number of categories of adverse childhood exposures showed a graded relationship to the presence of adult diseases including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, and liver disease. The seven categories of adverse childhood experiences were strongly interrelated and persons with multiple categories of childhood exposure were likely to have multiple health risk factors later in life.” ACEs study by Vincent J Felitti, MD, FACP; Robert F Anda, MD, MS; Dale Nordenberg, MD; David F WIlliamson MS, PhD; Alison M Spitz MS, MPH; Valerie Edwards BA; Mary P Koss, PhD; and James S Marks MD, MPH.
“Over the past 10 years, more than 20,000 American children are believed to have been killed in their own homes by family members. That is nearly four times the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The child maltreatment death rate in the US is triple Canada’s and 11 times that of Italy. Millions of children are reported as abused and neglected every year.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15193530. Sadly, abuse is not rare.
Is there is a chance that you were abused or neglected but you’re not sure? Or maybe you are sure that it happened. Do you tell yourself, “It’s not that bad?” Does it cause you shame to think or talk about this? If so, you’re not alone as most people feel this way. But I would like you to remember, you were a victim, you were a child and you didn’t have the power to stop it. You may doubt that, but it is true. As an adult you are empowered to talk about this with someone who understands and can support you.
OMG, am I gonna die?! Well, yes, eventually we all do. However, if you have a history of abuse and neglect you can get medical attention and regular check ups, eat right, exercise and be more health conscious. You can meet with a therapist who can help you look at the ways that this abuse or neglect has impacted your emotional health, relationships, etc as well. It is possible to be of healthy body and mind and it is a good thing to strive for. You are now educated and have the choice to ignore this or empower yourself to go get some help.
Some information taken from the following link where you can get more information: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/about.html
WIshing you much happiness, love, and laughter!
Mechele Evans, LCSW