Having a stressful childhood can shorten an individual’s life by decades, according to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They found the link between stressful experiences in childhood with diseases related to heart, lungs, liver and other medical conditions.
Every participant was asked if he had any of the following adverse childhood experiences:
- verbal abuse;
- physical violence;
- sexual abuse with physical contact;
- having a beaten mother
- having a substance-abusing person in the family
- having a mentally sick person in the family;
- having a family member who was in prison;
- having one’s parents divorce.
The study showed that an average life span of participants who were exposed to at least one of the indicated adverse experiences was at 61 years compared to 79 years among those who spent their childhood happily.
The link between traumatic experiences in childhood and developing health problems later in life can be explained by many reasons. For instance, stressful childhood affects brain development, therefore a person who had stressful experiences as a child can be more likely to suffer depression and anxiety and more inclined to fight stresses in unhealthy ways such as alcohol drinking or smoking.
Researchers noted the importance of childhood stress recognition and prevention for dealing with public health issues.