Are you struggling to recover from debilitating ill-health, mental wellness or an unwanted addiction or substance abuse?
It used to be quoted that “60 to 90 percent of doctor visits are attributed to stress-related illnesses and symptoms.” (1,2). More recently, leading medical experts estimate that 90% of disease is caused or complicated by stress.
Huge studies by the CDC in the 1990’s showed unresolved emotional trauma from childhood on health across a lifetime is possibly the most under-exposed risk factor for all major chronic health conditions in the world today. These are known as Adverse Childhood Events (ACE’s).
So what are the Adverse Childhood Events (ACE’s)?
They fall into three main categories:
- Household dysfunction
- Mental Illness
- Mother treated violently
- Substance abuse
- Incarcerated Relative
The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) did the groundbreaking research that looked at how 10 types of childhood trauma affect long-term health from They include:
- Parents separating or divorce,
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse,
- Physical and emotional neglect,
- Domestic violence,
- Mental illness in the family,
- Substance abuse,
- Incarceration by a related family member.
The Impact of Adverse Childhood Events
The impact of adverse childhood events was shown to effect both behaviour and physical and mental health.
- Lack of physical activity
- drug use
- missed work
Physical & Mental health
- Heart disease
- Broken bones
The ACE Study found that the higher someone’s ACE score – (the more types of childhood adversity a person experienced) – the higher their risk of chronic disease, mental illness, violence, being a victim of violence and addictions.
The study found that 67% of people have at least one ACE, of which 80% had experience more than one ACE. 12% of the population has an ACE score of 4.
Having a high level of ACEs are correlated with a dramatic increase in the risk of developing 7 of the top 10 causes of death. Compared with people who have zero ACEs, people with ACE scores are two to four times more likely to use alcohol or other drugs and to start using drugs at an earlier age. The ACE Study also found that it didn’t matter what the types of ACEs were. An ACE score of 4 that includes divorce, physical abuse, an incarcerated family member and a depressed family member has the same statistical health consequences as an ACE score of 4 that includes living with an alcoholic, verbal abuse, emotional neglect and physical neglect.
The 10 ACE’s
The questions below cover the ten most frequent ACEs answered by a group originally interviewed by the co-principal investigators of the studies, Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, with the CDC; and Vincent J. Felitti, MD, with Kaiser Permanente. They are not an exhaustive list and there is and ‘Extended ACE Score’, not included in the original research which can also be considered.
You can download a PDF version here>>
Answer the questions below and score 1 point for each ‘YES’ Prior to your 18th birthday:
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 way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
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?
Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch orfondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
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 lookout for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
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?
Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
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
Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?
Did a household member go to prison?
Now add up your “Yes” answers: This is your ACE Score:
You’ve got your score. Now what?
First, remember that the ACE score isn’t a diagnosis of any kind; it’s just meant as guidance. It helps you understand the different risk factors and for some people can help them understand more about themselves. There are also many other factors that they don’t take into account such as your diet or genes, or whether you smoke or drink excessively or have a sedentary lifestyle — to name just a few of the other major influences on health.
Remember this, too: ACE scores don’t tally the positive experiences in early life that can help build resilience and protect a child from the effects of trauma. Having siblings or grandparents who loves you, a teacher or other role model who understands and believes in you, or a trusted friend you can confide in may mitigate the long-term effects of early trauma. Research shows just having one reliable adult to speak to about their experience can help a child bounce back from an ACE.
There are also people with high ACE scores who do remarkably well, they can be more resilient or they can store memories of an event in a different, meaning two people can experience a similar experience, however their perception of the event can be entirely different.
Have one ACE can help you deal better with another one, and then there are the more sensitive people, who often have a more sensitive nervous system and they can experience a deeper impact from ACE’s.
Increase in Risk Factors for Health Outcomes
ACE score of 2 or more , you’re 100% more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatic diseases.
- For TH1 dominant autoimmune conditions there was a 70% increased risk with 2 or more ACEs of developing: Type I diabetes, Multiple sclerosis,Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Psoriasis, CeliacDisease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and chronic viral infections
- For TH2 dominant autoimmune conditions (listed below): there is an 80% increased risk with 2 or more ACEs of developing: Lupus, Allergic Dermatitis, Atopic Eczema, Sinusitis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Asthma, Allergies, Ulcerative Colitis and Multiple chemical sensitivity.
ACE score of 4 or above
- nearly doubles the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Increases the likelihood of becoming an alcoholic by 700 percent and the
- risk of attempted suicide is 12 times higher.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) is 2.5 times higher versus people with 0 ACEs,
- hepatitis risk is 2.5 times higher,
- depression 4.5 times higher,
- cancer is 2.5 times higher,
- diabetes is 1.6 times higher,
- a stroke is 2.6 times higher
- 4.22 times increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
ACE score of 5 or above are:
- Seven to 10 times more likely to use illegal drugs, to report addiction and to inject illegal drugs.
ACE score of 6 or more
- Reduced lifespan of 20 years.
ACE score of 8 or more
- triple risk of lung cancer, and
- increase the risk 3.5 times of ischemic heart disease.
Why are ACE’s Important?
How does emotional trauma and early life stress change our biology over a lifetime? It turns out that emotional trauma has an effect on three major areas: our behaviour, biochemistry, and our beliefs, all of which lead to diseases and health conditions in later life.
It’s all to do with the Biochemical Stress Mechanism. Whenever we face stress (chemical, electrical, microbial,
or emotional), the body releases stress hormones, including adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones ready the body for a flight or fight response.
In the days of the caveman, this was a useful mechanism for an adult to keep us safe, especially when faced with a sabre-toothed tiger.
However, in the case of emotional trauma in childhood, when neither a flight nor flight response is possible, these impulses cannot switch off, and two things result:
- The trauma becomes stuck in the cells and tissues.
2. A lowered threshold is required to stimulate a response in the future.
In other words, young brains become hardwired to respond to stress more easily; less external stress is required to produce all the cascading changes in the body, which result from a stress response.
The effects of stress on the body include:
The body is launched into a series of chemical reactions, also known as fight or flight (or freeze). Long term this can lead to sympathetic nervous system hyperactivity
- The flood of acid to shut down digestion can lead to Dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome long term
The flood of cortisol and adrenaline can lead to chronic low grade inflammation in the brain and body.
Hormonal imbalances, for example, in Chronic Fatigue, adrenal glands reduce in size and cortisol output is reduced; in major depression, it is the opposite
Increased free radical stress in the brain and body
The immune system goes on the back burner, then long term parts of the immune system over-react; other parts are suppressed i.e. food and chemical sensitivities, susceptibility to infections
- The cell danger response is can be impeded.
Children do not have the same emotional skills or the experience to deal with trauma or stress as adults do, hence the trauma becomes locked in the psyche. META health and symptom-emotion correlation studies have shown that radical improvements in confidence, skills & health outcomes can be achieved by finding the Root-Cause Stress Triggers, Emotions, Beliefs & Lifestyle Habits of 1,000+ Symptoms – see Lifestyle Prescriptions University
Now that you know …where do you go?
Quite often, when talking to clients with health challenges, they’l say. “I know there is trauma in may past, but I’ve blocked it out“, or ” I was so young I can’t remember“.
The is where the toolkit in Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT™) can help. We use both hypnosis and regression to access the memories of the subconscious mind, (which knows everything), and we delve into ‘how’ and ‘where’ the memory has been stored.
If you would like to find out more about RTT™and whether it can help you achieve your existing health goals, the do book a free chat to discover more.
Kirsty Terry, Msc, BSc, R(Nutr), RTT™, AFMCP™
Kirsty is a Healthpreneur and uses the modalities of Functional Medicine, Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT™) and Bioenergetic Health Screening to help her clients achieve their optimum health and vitality naturally.
Kirsty is passionate about how the mind and body works together in creating the onset of illness and combines psycho-emotional, energetic, physical and meta-physical approaches for a truly comprehensive, radically wholistic approach to health and wellness.
She helps her clients to get to, and understand the root cause of their health challenges, and helps them address the lifestyles changes required break free from managing symptoms and achieve their optimum health and vitality.
For anyone who is sick, stuck or just fed-up with the ongoing pattern of managing only symptoms. Her unique combination of modalities provides a truly comprehensive and wholistic approach to achieving health which are non-invasive, painless and a drug-free.
When I'm not trying to heal the world, I'm a Zumba queen, or blissing out with a good meditation