Updated: Feb 17, 2019
Childhood adversity, toxic stress, and trauma are more prevalent than you think. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies, a collaborative project between Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the long-term physical and mental health effects of childhood adversity. In short, poor health and risk for illness — medical as well as psychiatric — can be rooted in childhood psychosocial experiences. Risk factors include abuse, neglect, violence, loss of a parent, mental illness, substance abuse, and criminal behavior. When children are caught in cycles of abuse, neglect or humiliation, their stress response and coping mechanisms can be degraded and become stuck in the “on” position.
Another form of negative development that can follow from childhood adversity affects the child’s regulatory coping mechanisms for stress. This can lead to difficulties such as substance use and addictive disorders. Emotional and behavioral regulation are essential skills, built upon the foundation of neurological development. Toxic stress, however, can alter and “miswire” the development of critical coping systems, resetting their baseline levels of activity and making them supersensitized, not only to stress but also to triggers that signal the approach of rewarding or stressful situations.
Learn more about counseling options to address an adverse childhood - call 321.616.7225, email our office, or send us a Facebook message to schedule a free confidential 30 minute consultation.