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Thread: Health impact of childhood trauma and/or stress page

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    Health impact of childhood trauma and/or stress

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    Study says childhood trauma can shorten life, presage heart trouble

    "http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-08-14-APA-adversity-shortens-lifespan14_ST_N.htm"

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    It's weird that in a study evaluating life span and inflammation they excluded those with cancer and diabetes.

    But they said nothing about the lifestyles of those with trauma vs those without, nor about poverty. So I don't think they could conclude anything except maybe it's worth looking at in a better study.

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    I can say through personal experience that it does cause a form of stress that impacts your health until you've managed to heal your wounds of the past. I'm well aware that the stress of dealing with the repercussions of my childhood are screwing with my immune system today.
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    I work in an organization that supports trauma survivors. Particularly in repeated traumas, the body's stress hormone levels get elevated over a long period of time. After a while, that becomes the new baseline, thus leading to chronically high levels of cortisol, etc. What that means is that the system runs on perpetual high alert, which does significant damage over time and really messed up a lot of body systems.

    We also know now that childhood trauma impacts neurological development and can create actual differences in the brains of adult trauma survivors. It's pretty scary stuff.
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    Well, I posted this because I'd rather pooh-poohed the effect of childhood trauma on difficulty losing weight in another thread. Rather wanted to reflect that there is more to the story, because clearly there is much to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    We also know now that childhood trauma impacts neurological development and can create actual differences in the brains of adult trauma survivors. It's pretty scary stuff.
    And even prenatal factors play a role. In utero vitamin D deficiency as well and nutritional deficiencies create long term health risks. Maternal stress levels during pregnancy impact the fetus in a variety of ways as well.



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    This makes sense. In my line of work (neurofeedback), I can tell if someone's nervous system is out of whack depending on their brain map.
    If the right side of their temporal lobes are dominant, they are Sympathtic Nervous System dominant and likely overproduce stress hormones, which can lead to so many issues, including eventual underproduction of cortisol, which is the body's major anti-inflamatorry corticosteroid.
    I can also tell at which age range the trauma occurred by the concentration of frequencies (for instance, if they have a crap-load of delta waves there, birth trauma is very likely.)

    Thank goodness these nervous system imbalances can be corrected and traumas dissipated!

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    Yes, a lot of trauma therapists I know are now doing a lot of work reintegrating both sides of the brain, connecting people with body states, and so on. It's not just woo--there's good emerging neuropsych data to back it up. We used to say that people had psychosomatic illnesses, but now we know that somatic complaints are actually often real physical manifestations of a person's emotions. We're just now really understanding how much of a relationship there is between psychological state, the nervous and endocrine systems, and people's health. As one therapist I know says, our heads are part of our bodies. Good therapy for trauma survivors recognizes that relationship and works both aspects.
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    This is so interesting to me. The heightened baseline that Owly wrote about is exactly what I feel like. Always on edge. I grew up with parents divorcing when I was 5 (mother had an affair prior -- I remember it), mother's new boyfriend was horrible, father tried to commit suicide when I was 6 and then escaped a mental institution and tried to take us. Mom diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 8 (she was 31). She fought and fought it. From the time I was 7, I went back and forth from my mom's to my dad's every week (after my father supposedly recovered -- but he was diagnosed as bipolar). Eventually my mom died when I was 12 and I lived with my father/grandma full time. Both my father and grandma were bipolar so it was like walking on eggshells all the time. Father spent all our social security money from my mom at strip clubs (even married a psychotic 26 year old stripper at one point) and he had a good job with very few bills (lived with my grandma). He never had time for me. So I got involved in church, which became my life. Never felt good enough. I used to lie in my room, praying and crying to God to fix me because I was broken and cried all the time. And was gaining weight at lighting speed. I went from 160 to 260 in a couple years. Then diagnosed with Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroid disease. Never lost the weight. Then started sneaking food and eating it all the time. Father was emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive. It goes on and on.

    I say all that to say this: there are many people who have had it worse than me. It's no wonder this society is so screwed up with addictions and diseases. Add inappropriate food, lack of rest, and so on and you've got a real mess. It's sad, really.

    The thing is, I have tried therapy, but it doesn't work. I don't know how to fix my brain. People like me don't know how to fix ourselves. We want help, but don't know what to do. Or if there are methods, they are usually really expensive.

    The other issue, as Owly mentioned, is the new "normal" baseline. My normal is on edge and high strung. I don't know how to be any other way. I'm always waiting for something to go wrong, because that's what always seemed to happen. I'm fortunate that I was able to get out of my situation by 19 years old...yet I haven't escaped its effects and part of my psyche holds onto it all like it was yesterday.

    I'm glad more research is coming out. It's about time.
    Last edited by ShannonPA-S; 08-17-2010 at 08:38 PM. Reason: spelling

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