What’s your ACE Score? And why does it matter?

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Have you heard of ACE scores? ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences, and your ACE score measures the number of stressful or traumatic events you may have experienced during your childhood. These experiences can include things like physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, such as substance abuse, mental illness, or divorce.

The ACE score was first introduced by Drs. Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda in the 1990s, who conducted a study investigating the relationship between childhood trauma and adverse adult health outcomes. They found that the higher a person’s ACE score, the more likely they were to experience a range of negative health outcomes, including chronic diseases, mental health issues, and even early death.

Why does knowing your ACE score matter?

By knowing your ACE score, you can gain awareness of your childhood experiences’ impact on your health and well-being. This can help you understand why you may be struggling with certain issues and can also help you take steps to address them.

Knowing your ACE score can help you find the best healing path. If you have suffered from trauma, finding trauma-informed care is key.

How do you find out your ACE score?

The ACE study consisted of ten questions, each asking about a specific adverse childhood experience. You can take the ACE quiz here to find out your score. It’s important to note that the ACE score is not a diagnosis or a guarantee of negative health outcomes but a tool for gaining awareness and understanding of the impact of your possible childhood trauma.

Understanding your ACE score can help you realize the impact of your childhood on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

What does my ACE score mean?

Your ACE score is a tool for gaining awareness and understanding of the potential impact of childhood trauma. It’s also important to note that a high ACE score does not necessarily mean you will experience negative health outcomes, and a low ACE score does not guarantee that you won’t.

If you have 1-3 ACEs, you are considered at intermediate risk for toxic stress as an adult.

If you have 4 or more ACEs, you are considered at high risk for toxic stress as an adult.

What is Toxic Stress?

Toxic stress is chronic stress that happens when you experience prolonged or repeated exposure to stressful or traumatic events, especially during early childhood when the brain is still developing. This type of stress can be caused by various experiences, such as abuse, neglect, poverty, violence, or chronic illness.

Toxic stress can have significant and long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health. When exposed to prolonged stress, the body, and brain disrupts the development of critical biological systems, such as the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. This can increase the risk of developing chronic illnesses later in life, such as heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety.

In children, toxic stress also significantly impacts cognitive development, emotional regulation, and social behavior. It can cause changes in your brain’s structure and function, leading to learning, memory, and attention difficulties. It can also affect your ability to form healthy relationships and manage your emotions, which impacts your behavior and mental health throughout your life.

Resources

Harvard University, Toxic Stress

National Library of Medicine, Toxic Stress: Effects, Prevention and Treatment

Aceaware.org

Aceaware.org Clinical Workflows

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