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Your childhood. How it impacts your mental and physical health
by Harriet Frew on July 9th, 2019

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – Benjamin Franklin’.

This quote is at the forefront of my mind after a training course this morning at work.

The course was about ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES (ACEs)

What are they?

Common examples of ACEs include: child abuse and neglect; domestic violence, bullying, serious accidents or injuries, discrimination, extreme poverty and community violence.

As you might expect to see, research shows that such experiences have serious consequences. Children experiencing ACEs are much more likely to have longer term mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm behaviours, addictions to drugs or alcohol. The greater number of ACEs you have experienced, the more likely your health will suffer.

And it’s not just mental health that’s impacted, but physical health too.

Experiencing 4 or more ACEs increases risk of lung disease (3x); IV drug abuse (4x); 2x liver disease.

One of the most protective factors for a child going through ACEs is having an available adult who can support them. This can be a massively protective factor for longer term mental health. Supporting parents is crucial.

Why do ACEs impact health so much?

ACEs disrupt neuro-development of the brain, determining whether its architecture is stabile or fragile.

Chronic stress can be toxic to developing brains. The body is constantly in fight/flight and produces excess cortisol.

Chronic stress is incredibly damaging for the body long-term.

Not all young people who face childhood adversity or trauma go onto develop a mental health problem.

What can help?

Stable, caring relationships are essential for healthy development. These can reverse the damaging effects of toxic stress. Even having ONE key person can be a life changer.

Safe + mutual relationships with peers.

Access to a wider, supportive community.

Having an ability to regulate emotions and manage emotional distress.

Early help - supportive, attuned professionals.

What to do if you're feeling stuck as an adult, because of ACEs?

It is never too late to find some peace and closure after experiencing ACEs. Longer-term therapy can really help with this. It is important to find someone who you can build a supportive and trusting relationship with.

This website is also a great starting point PODS - set-up by Carolyn Spring who is a survivor of childhood trauma.



Posted in Roots of behaviour, Children    Tagged with Childhood adverse experiences, ACEs, trauma, roots of behaviour, Eating Disorder, bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorder, recovery


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