#15 Is Your Health Problem Rooted in Your Past?

Updated: Jan 5


In blog #14 we looked at how trauma can be the underlying cause of addictions, but did you know that physical health problems in later life can also be linked back to trauma?

So how did this understanding come about?

Trauma actually alters the nervous system, the immune system, the cell danger response, gene function and beyond.


The CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges and later-life health and well-being.

During the study, 13,000 adults were given a survey asking about 10 different types of adverse experiences and asked if they had experienced them prior to the age of 18.

The experiences included physical, sexual and emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; losing a parent such as through divorce; being exposed to domestic violence between your parents; having a parent with a mental illness such as depression; or having a member of the household who abuses substances such as alcohol or drugs or has been in jail.

The study showed a direct correlation between these ACEs and future health complications.

We now know that as the number of ACEs in a child’s life increases, so does the likelihood of “multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults,” such as heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, and liver disease.

Life Expectancy

A more recent study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reports that participants who were exposed to six or more different types of ACES had their life expectancy cut short by twenty years.

Coping Mechanisms

While it is true that children, teens, and adults who have experienced physical and psychological trauma may also be more likely to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, substance abuse, overeating, and hypersexuality and these behaviours can put them at a higher risk for developing certain conditions, the problem goes way beyond unhealthy habits.

Trauma actually alters the nervous system, the immune system, the cell danger response, gene function and beyond.

My Story

As a survivor of abuse and neglect in childhood, I have a pretty high ACE score — 8 out of a possible 10. I also, unsurprisingly, live with chronic health conditions.

I have Myalgic Encephalopathy, a neurological disorder similar to Parkinsons.

I also have Ehlers Danlos syndrome (type 3 hypermobility) which is a disorder of the connective tissue leading to me frequently sustain injuries which can't heal properly.

When I was diagnosed with these conditions in my 20’s there was no understanding from any of the health professionals that they might be linked to my childhood.

I have done some deep healing work on my childhood over several years and have seen improvements in both these conditions.


If you have health conditions they may well stem from your childhood but this also means that by doing some work to heal what took place, your health also has the opportunity to improve.