The Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Childhood Stress

Elaine Young Holistic Therapy Holistic Therapist

Many of us suffer from an autoimmune disease. But often, no one is able to give us a reason as to why our immune system has gone haywire and is attacking our body. Recent research has suggested that there is an intrinsic link between autoimmune disease and childhood stress. This article explores this link in more detail and highlights some of the most recent, fascinating research.

This article is part of a 3 part series about autoimmune disease. Look out for the following articles in the series: ‘How To Reduce Autoimmune Disease Naturally With SCIO Therapy,’ and ‘Autoimmune Disease and Hypnotherapy.’

What is Autoimmune Disease?

An autoimmune disease is a condition which causes your immune system to attack your body instead of the normal bacteria and viruses. The body starts producing antibodies that attack its own tissue. Antibodies are intended for the defence against disease. But in this case, the body mistakes parts like your skin or joints as ‘foreign invaders’.

Common Types of Autoimmune Disease

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes Type 1
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
  • Grave’s Disease
  • Celiac’s Disease 

Common Symptoms of Autoimmune Disease

Symptoms vary with each disease but some common ones to look out for are:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Numb or weak muscles
  • Sudden change in weight
  • Sudden change in bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes

Childhood Stress and ACE’s

Childhood stress is otherwise known as an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience.) It refers to a negative or traumatic experience, either emotional or physical, that occurs during the first 18 years of life. 

The Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Childhood Stress

So what is the connection between autoimmune disease and childhood stress?

Studies show that people with two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences were at 70-100% increased risk for hospitalizations with autoimmune-type diseases, decades into adulthood.

Recent studies also show that those who have experienced childhood trauma, or other forms of childhood stress are at higher risk of developing chronic or autoimmune diseases such as migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, and very interestingly, inflammation – even as much as 20 years after a traumatic event. 

With such overwhelming evidence, it is hard to deny that there is a clear connection between childhood stress and autoimmune disorders in later life! 

What Causes the Link Between Autoimmune Disease and Childhood Stress?

But what causes this link between autoimmune disease and childhood stress? How can an event in one’s childhood lead to these long-term health conditions?

There is significant evidence to show that extreme emotional stress affects the way the brain forms in later life, and provides a catalyst for physical change within the body.

According to Healthline:

“Trauma can switch the body’s stress response system into high gear for the rest of the child’s life.”

Essentially, the experience of ACEs puts stress on both the mind and the body. Furthermore, this stress actually reprograms your immune system for protection. When the mind is put under stress from an early age, the body triggers a stress response. This is often called a fight or flight mentality.


Childhood Stress and the ‘Fight or Flight’ Response

When you suffer from a childhood trauma but do not properly process or deal with this, your body never truly stops this fight or flight stress response. Essentially, this means that the your body is working in overdrive, constantly perceiving and bracing itself for stresses and threats in daily life. 

Interestingly, studies have also discovered that childhood trauma leads to increase inflammation in individuals, which can also cause autoimmune disease in later life. 

However, this isn’t the whole story. Children who experience childhood trauma or ACEs are also far more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms in later life, such as smoking, alcohol abuse and drug use. All of which have a harmful effect on the body and its systems.

Have You Experienced Childhood Stress?

I’ve put together this handy quiz which asks questions about ACEs. Receive a free ACE score upon completing the quiz to find out how childhood stress is likely to have affected you today.

Want to Learn More About Autoimmune Disease and Childhood Stress?

As a holistic therapist, I have a lot of tools in my toolbox when it comes to managing and reducing the symptoms of autoimmune disease, or other chronic conditions caused by childhood stress. 

Why not contact me today by filling out the form at the bottom of this post to receive a FREE consultation with me? 

This article is the first in a 3 part series about Autoimmune Disease. Read part 2 ‘How to Reduce Autoimmune Disease Naturally with SCIO Therapy’ or part 3, ‘Autoimmune Disease and Hypnotherapy.’

Are You Suffering From An Autoimmune Disease or Unresolved Childhood Trauma?

If you still have any questions, or are interested in embarking on a holistic therapy journey with me, contact me today to book a FREE discovery session.