If you have experienced significant trauma, it is highly likely that you have an impaired response to stress. Trauma shifts the body’s nervous, hormonal and immune systems. These shifts take a toll on both the mind and body and are often not considered by healthcare providers when working with chronic illness. Trauma (which includes early loss, abuse, neglect and household dysfunction) leaves scars.
Trauma can make you feel separate from life, from your loved ones and from your purpose.
You may feel as if it is very difficult to trust friends, family and loved ones, or experience guilt and shame about what was done to you.
You may experience significant challenges in stepping into your life and career as so much of your energy and being is trapped or drained by past trauma(s).
Fear may feel like it is crippling – a fear of failure, of being betrayed or hurt, fear that you won’t be able to please everyone or to fit in.
Or you may feel as though it is either hard to be aware of sensations in your body, or that you are acutely aware and it is distracting or painful.
If you have experienced trauma, you know how debilitating, lonely and paralyzing it can be. What you may not know is how deleterious trauma can be to your health. The stress caused by unresolved early childhood trauma (referred to in research as ‘Adverse Childhood Events’ or ACEs) is significantly associated with risk of disease and premature death.
A high ACEs score is linked with an increased risk of:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- High-risk sexual behaviors
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
- Poorer pregnancy outcomes
- Becoming a victim of violence
- Autoimmune diseases
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Frequent headaches and migraines
- Heart Disease
- Sleep disturbances
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Lung Disease (COPD)
- Increased use of prescription drugs
- Severe Obesity
- Poor dental health
- Premature mortality
The following image is derived from the Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) study and depicts the relationship between ACEs and mental, emotional, social and physical health.
If you are wondering what your ACE score is, you can take this quiz and then read on to interpret your score. (Though please realize that even if you do not score highly on this quiz, it doesn’t rule out that trauma has an impact on your health, it may just be a little milder or less categorized than for someone with a higher score, or it may be that you experienced trauma after childhood.) Also this quiz doesn’t take into account how positive factors in one’s life (loving relationships, good self-care) at the time, or following the trauma, can affect one’s resilience to the trauma(s).)
The good news is that trauma does not need to inflict you with a lifetime of pain and suffering. Carefully selected natural treatments such as homeopathy, mind-body medicine and functional medicine, often in concert with psychotherapy, can lead to healing and recovery. Those who heal from trauma emerge with increased self-knowledge, resiliency and improved health.
If you have unresolved trauma(s) that you think may be affecting your health, I invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about how to recover your health and well-being.