We also now know that our bodies never forget. As with the patients on the obesity study, the pain is always there – we just find different ways of medicating it.
Chronic stress and neuro-inflammation
When we are chronically stressed, the brain creates a state of neuro-inflammation. The result is impaired growth of neurons in the hippocampus and impaired emotional wellbeing (decision-making abilities, emotional regulation, thoughts and behaviour) as adults. This means a higher propensity for depression, bipolar disorder, eating disor- ders, anxiety disorders and poor decision- making – all of which can lead to substance abuse.
Worse, as we get older (and women suffer in far greater numbers than men), we develop illnesses like fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, bowel disorders, cancers, heart disease and chronic pain.
EXAMPLES OF ACES
In the gamut of experiences we go through as children, it turns out that quite specific ones (always, the ones that give us chronic, unpredictable stress) have measurable, detrimental effects on us as adults. These include:
In the family
- Being regularly verbally put down or humiliated
- Emotional or physical neglect
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Having a depressed parent (or other mental illness)
- Having a chronically ill parent for a significant period
- Having a parent who was addicted to alcohol or other substances
- Witnessing a mother/father/sibling being abused
- Losing a parent to separation/divorce
- Losing a parent to death
- Disliked by a sibling/favouritism by parents
- A forced, unwanted separation from family
- A strained or cold relationship with either or both parents