Childhood Trauma Contributes to Mental Illness in Adulthood
> 11/12/2007 12:35:51 PM

Troubles suffered in childhood can have a significant impact upon adult behavior, as the results of a decade-long study demonstrate. The study examined numerous childhood traumas and the effects that these early experiences have upon an adult's health and behavior. The results show that adults who experienced multiple traumas during childhood are much more likely to have poor mental and physical health.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study began in 1995 and is one of the largest studies to investigate the link between childhood traumas and adult mental health, involving more than 17,000 participants. The average age during participation was 57, and most participants were well-educated and in the middle class. They were asked about their exposure to various adverse situations during their first 18 years of life, including emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, household dysfunction, and neglect. The researchers calculated an ACE score for each participant, with each adverse childhood experience counting as 1 point and a possible maximum of 10 points. The results illustrate just how common childhood traumas are and how often children experience multiple traumas. Only one in three participants had a score of 0, one out of four had a score of 2 or higher, and one in ten had a score of 5 or higher. Those with higher scores had a significantly higher risk of health problems like depression, obesity, addiction, and liver disease. They also had a higher risk for smoking, drug and alcohol use, and sexual promiscuity. Those with a score of 4 or higher were twelve times more likely than those with a score of 0 to attempt suicide.

Information from the ACE study has been used by over 30 studies on the correlation between problems experienced during childhood and those experienced in adulthood. However, despite our knowledge of the lasting impact childhood experiences can have, abuse remains a problem for much of America’s youth. It is estimated that over 900,000 children suffer from neglect and abuse every year. The ACE study has demonstrated the importance of considering childhood trauma when evaluating an adult's physical and mental health. By working to prevent child abuse and neglect, we can perhaps also reduce rates of physical and mental illness in the adult population.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy