We all go through different things as kids and what you consider ‘jarring’ or ‘scarring’ might not be the same as someone else but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t had some kind of effect on you. Things that can be or are classified as ACE or ‘adverse childhood experiences’ are important to know about so that you can work through the things you’re facing in adulthood.
According to the CDC, around 61 percent of adults have had at least one ACE in their lives and roughly 16 percent have faced around four or more. This meaning they’re much more common than most people want to admit. This kind of thing was noted by the CDC as having a ‘tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.’ I know, that might sound a bit out there to some but it’s not something we should be overlooking.
ACEs are overall classified in several forms there are things present under personal trauma, familial trauma, and so forth. These things can be broken down into things like physical abuse, emotional neglect, addiction, mental illness, and other things of that nature. An extensive study on ACEs actually found that people who have higher ACE scores (meaning 4 or more) tend to be 1.9 times more likely to become obese, 2.4 times as likely to experience ongoing anxiety, and even 3.6 times as likely to be depressed than those who score lower on the ACE scale as a whole.
The results of that study were posted under the title ‘The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood’ and the results/conclusion goes as follows:
Based upon logistic regression analysis, the risk of every outcome in the affective, somatic, substance abuse, memory, sexual, and aggression-related domains increased in a graded fashion as the ACE score increased (P < 0.001). The mean number of comorbid outcomes tripled across the range of the ACE score.
The graded relationship of the ACE score to 18 different outcomes in multiple domains theoretically parallels the cumulative exposure of the developing brain to the stress response with resulting impairment in multiple brain structures and functions.
When we are young we tend to think the things we’re going through are not as big of a deal as they are. We don’t realize that they will affect us as we age. Some of the things you’re facing now in your life might be the result of the things you experienced as a child.
Psychology Today wrote as follows going over this in more detail and how to work through it:
When early-life trauma is uncovered via assessment or during the course of another treatment, and when that trauma appears to be linked to the patient’s adult-life issues (physical, emotional, relational), it will need to be acknowledged and addressed, preferably with the assistance of a clinician who specializes in trauma work as part of his or her practice.
At times, it is wise to address the patient’s presenting issue before delving too deeply into his or her underlying trauma. When dealing with an addiction, for example, it is best to break through the addict’s denial, to define what sobriety looks like, and to develop coping skills the addict can turn to when triggered (by stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, depression, and other forms of emotional discomfort) toward the addiction. Otherwise, the emotionally painful work of trauma therapy could easily trigger an addiction relapse. That said, once sobriety is established and the addict has a solid support network in place, the deeply emotional work of understanding and resolving trauma should absolutely take place. If not, the individual will continue to struggle with the feelings that drove the addiction in the first place. And a similar statement could be made about any adult-life issue—physical, psychological, relational—that is impacted by unresolved childhood trauma.
We all need to be more aware of ACEs and how they can affect us. To learn more on this topic take a look at the video below. It might sound odd but it’s not something that we should be pretending isn’t happening.