Research Shows Link Between Stressful Childhood And Health Problems

What happens in your childhood doesn’t only stay in your memories. In fact, it impacts your health too, that also in the long-run. A new research has found stress in childhood combined with high stress in adulthood can lead to flatter cortisol patterns which is connected with adverse health.

However, before you fret know that this study states that flatter cortisol levels arise not solely out of stress in adulthood or in childhood but when stress is high in both stages. It must be kept in mind also that simple healthy living can help lower cortisol levels.

What Did This Study Reveal?

A new study which has been published in the Journal of Psychological Science shows that there’s a link between childhood stress and flatter hormonal levels. According to this research, a traumatic or stressful childhood when combined with a high-stress adult life can negatively impact hormonal levels and lead to health complications.

Normally, one’s cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, markers are higher in the morning and slowly reduce as the day goes on. However, a dysregulation can occur in this system which can result in a flatter cortisol pattern which is linked to adverse health outcomes. For the purpose of this study, scientists recruited 90 people who had participated in the high-risk birth cohort Minnesota Longitudinal study.

Data from their Life Events Schedule was assessed as part of the research. The Life Events Schedule or LES is a survey that looks at a person’s life’s stressful events such as financial problems, relationship issues, physical danger as well as mortality. These participants had taken part in the survey at different ages.

When they were younger, their mothers had completed the survey with them. At the age of 37, they again provided their cortisol data by means of saliva samples. It was found that cortisol patterns didn’t only depend on current stress levels but also on childhood stress. Researchers concluded:

  • Participants who had lower stress markers in their early childhood had almost the same cortisol patterns regardless of their stress levels as an adult
  • Participants who had high stress levels as children and even as adults had flatter cortisol patterns

This shows that only if one also experiences high stress as an adult after doing so in childhood too, there are chances of negative health outcomes. This also stresses on the fact that childhood is a particularly sensitive stage and its impacts can be long-term. Scientists want to further study the impact that other components of stress have on health.

Key Takeaway

A new study shows that a stressful childhood and then a stressful adult life can lead to a flatter cortisol pattern which is associated with health problems. Now while one cannot control traumatic and upsetting childhood events and can’t erase them either, what he can do is follow techniques that can help him lower his cortisol levels as an adult. In this regard, some helpful measures include meditation, exercise, and a health diet, etc.