childhood trauma affects health in the adulthood

I came across this video clip of a TED talk called: How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime by paediatrician Nadine Burke Harris. She explains scientifically how adverse experiences in childhood, such as the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and other health issues later in adult life.

When under threat, our body switches into a fight-flight-fright mode to protect us. This means that our sympathetic nervous system takes over, causing faster heart and breathing rate, dilated pupils and release of adrenaline into the blood stream – amongst other physiological changes. This mechanism is good for short bursts of time to deal with sudden incidents. However, prolonged stress causes constant overuse of the sympathetic nervous system and depletes the body’s natural resources, resulting in poor health.

It is great to hear that a well-respected medical professional is taking into account the whole person and acknowledging the importance of a balanced body-mind connection for our wellbeing. This is something that alternative medicine and therapy practitioners have been aware of for long time, but mainstream medical practice has been slower to accept. I also believe that science and alternative therapies don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

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