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Auckland, New Zealand
April 9, 2019

How Adverse Childhood Experiences can affect your life

How many ACE’s are you holding?

ACE is an acronym for Adverse Childhood Experiences.  In 1998, a research study for the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) with 17,500 study participants (mostly white, middle- and upper-middle class, college educated, employed with good jobs) looked at the relationship between ACE’s and health risks in adulthood. The researchers assumed that there wouldn’t be a connection.  What they discovered was the complete opposite.

What the research found

An astounding 67% of respondents had experienced at least 1 ACE, and 80% of those has experienced 2 or more ACE’s. Download the questionnaire here. They found unresolved childhood emotions and trauma profoundly hurts health across a lifetime, dramatically raising the risk for later chronic disease, as well as mental health issues, suicide, being violent and a victim of violence. It could be the single largest risk factor for major chronic illnesses. The higher your score, the higher your risk of seven out of ten of the top ten causes of death. Four or more ACEs increases the risk of:

  • Heart disease by 165%
  • Cancer 250%
  • Alzheimer’s 422%
  • Depression 460%
  • Suicide 1,200 %!

Types of ACEs studied

The 10 ACEs looked at included parental separation or divorce; physical, sexual or emotional abuse; physical or emotional neglect; family dysfunction involving substance abuse, domestic violence, mental illness and incarceration. They didn’t evaluate for bullying or racial / sexual / religious persecution, living through war or natural disasters, homelessness, you or a family member being seriously ill, injured, a family member dying etc. which for many would be additional significant adverse life events. Other life factors can have a mitigating effect, such as having at least one safe adult in your life who loved you and encouraged you.

Why you need to address your ACEs

Exploring your ACE score and addressing unresolved emotional trauma could literally save your life, as part of a holistic mental, emotional and physical health program. Focusing exclusively on diet, exercise and palliative treatments still leaves you vulnerable to the negative impact of the ACE’s. Time doesn’t heal trauma but conceals it until it seeps out into your life through complex chronic illness.

Our Trauma specialist Liz Hart can work with you using highly effective evidence-based practices tailored to your situation to resolve early trauma gently and effectively to improve your chances of living a longer, happier and healthier life.

Liz Hart

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