Many studies over the years have demonstrated how adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can negatively affect an individual’s long-term physical and mental health. It has been connected to chronic disease, early death, and even hastened aging.
Childhood stress may also affect our DNA and be passed on to our descendants. So, if the cycle is not halted, it can carry on from one generation to the next.
When we discuss childhood adversity, we can refer to particular events like neglect, abuse, or trauma. It may also refer to unfavorable socioeconomic situations like unemployment, inadequate education, or poverty. In a recent study, we sought to examine two different adversities.
We examined the effects of significant domestic conflict, such as tension, verbal disputes, or physical abuse. We also examined the serious financial hardships children endured. The results of our analysis of a sizable representative survey of respondents from Europe showed that these two categories of adversity significantly predicted a range of adult health issues, including physical, mental, and social issues. Those who had gone through both conflict and financial hardship as children were more affected.
Childhood financial hardship might result in unmanageable, ongoing stress. This habit of stress can subsequently obstruct a child’s ability to develop normally and learn effectively. A youngster who is struggling financially may not have access to basic basics like food, clothing, and school supplies. Thus, there are more kids.
Growing up in an environment characterised by serious conflict can also have a marked affect on psychological and neurological development. One reason is that a pattern of unpredictable, uncontrollable and chronic stress creates an overactive stress-response system that readily triggers a person into alert or aggression. Altogether, it limits a person’s ability to regulate emotions and behaviour.
Such experiences predispose people to unhealthy lifestyles like substance misuse or comfort eating. It also disrupts the immune, metabolic and autonomic nervous systems, meaning it has a direct, biological and enduring effect on a person’s ability to stay healthy.