6 Signs Your Past Childhood Trauma Is Making You Physically Sick

There may be more to your illness than you think.

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Can't figure out why you're always sick? Child abuse and neglect both contribute to childhood trauma, but what if the effects of these follow you to adulthood in the form of a physical illness?

There is a scientific link between illness and childhood abuse and neglect — whether it's physical, emotional, or sexual. The effects of victimization are far-reaching — especially when it begins before the age of seven.


RELATED: The Sad Reason Why Childhood Trauma Is Holding You Back As An Adult

Current science shows the emotional damage to a person who lived their childhood in fight, flight, or freeze mode and how the trauma of emotional neglect affects them right down to the physical body.


The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) is the largest public health study ever done at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California. It has been ongoing since the mid-1990s. It has conclusively linked childhood abuse and family dysfunction with chronic illness, substance abuse, and suicidality later in life.

The top three diseases identified by the study are lung diseases, cancer, and auto-immune diseases.

At the bottom of difficult stories of abuse and neglect are the emotions that we feel as a result of these experiences. But what role do traumatized emotions play in illnesses?

We all know that emotions can make us sick through things we commonly say like, "I’m worried sick about..." or "That person makes me sick to my stomach." It turns out these emotions when experienced daily will wear away at the physical body over time.


It does this through the secretion of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. When these hormones flood your body daily, they become toxic to your biological system over time and the immune system breaks down.

In the work of scientist Dr. Candace Pert, who wrote the best-seller Molecules of Emotion, she shares that when you experience an emotion, every single cell in your body feels it too. She went on to say that your brain cells aren’t just in your brain — they’re in every cell of your body.

This is significant for a person who was abused and neglected as a child and still feels the negative impact in daily life.

Here are six signs that past childhood trauma is making you physically sick:

1. You've been told that the pain in your body is all in your head


This experience is one of the most frustrating things you can ever go through. When a doctor tells you that nothing has come up in their tests and you’re in horrific pain, you feel dismissed and not cared for. Even worse, you feel like they’re telling you that you’re crazy.

Unexplained symptoms could be the way your body is communicating to you that you need a different kind of help. Not showing up on a medical test could be the way to confirm this.

RELATED: I Love Being Alone — But It's A Trauma Response

2. You've tried everything to get well but you’re still sick

You’ve followed all your doctor’s orders and you’re not getting better. You have tried diets, psychotherapy, prescription drugs, and many things alternative but you’re only getting worse.


Your body has a mind of its own and holds the experiences of your life in it. It remembers things in an entirely different way than your mind does. If you address this from a holistic approach, you might just get well.

3. You have stress-related illnesses like migraines or ulcers and nothing helps

Common stress-related illnesses and symptoms (particularly digestive disturbances) can make daily living a nightmare. Your antacids rarely work anymore and you’re tired of feeling flat-lined from your anti-depressant medication.

You think that your difficult childhood might be the culprit, but you don’t want to spend years in therapy talking about your story over and over again — or maybe you already have and you’re all talked out.

RELATED: I Didn't Realize My Childhood Had Been Stolen From Me Until I Grew Up And Started Talking About It


4. You have physical pains or symptoms that have no explanation

You have sudden stabbing pains that shoot through your head, your legs, your hands, your stomach, your back, or any and everywhere. Your doctor can’t find a source.

Your body holds onto experiences in an entirely different way than your mind does. Unexplained pains could be your body crying out for help. These cries for assistance could lead you to the emotions, beliefs, and thoughts that linger in your unconscious "body-mind" — that part of you that has its own story.

Your chronic shooting pains could be from emotional wounds and the way your body is recalling them.

5. You have overwhelming anxiety, fear, and panic that you can’t seem to find the cause of

You get triggered so often that you feel like you’re a ticking timebomb.


These emotions overwhelm you with no warning. Often you cannot pinpoint what happened and other times it’s very clear. Either way, you feel ruled by them.

You’ve been told that all you can do are breathing exercises to calm down or take medications to suppress symptoms. You may or may not know that these emotions are wearing away at your biological system and potentially contributing to illness.

RELATED: An Open Letter To Men Who Love Women Over 35 — This Is Why We Flinch When You Touch Us

6. You have excess weight that you just cannot lose

You’ve tried every diet, exercise, and hormone-balancing program you can find, and still, the weight won’t budge.


The ACE Study began with an obesity clinic. Morbidly obese patients would lose as many as 100 pounds and then abruptly stop the program.

Upon investigation, Dr. Vincent Felitti (who ran the clinic and founded the ACE Study), discovered that high numbers of these patients were sexually abused as children and often had dysfunctional families marked by neglect, divorce, mental illness of a parent, substance abuse, physically violent and abusive parents, or an incarcerated parent.

After decades of his research, it has been scientifically linked that childhood abuse can lead to weight gain and the inability to lose it.

In my practice, I have seen clients rapidly lose what I call "emotional weight" after releasing the deep unconscious thoughts, feelings, and beliefs connected to their traumatic past and why they were padding themselves with extra weight.


In the case of sexual abuse survivors, if they stay heavy, they believe they won’t be seen as sexually desirable. It’s a line of protection to keep the weight. So, the idea that we carry baggage with us isn’t just a metaphor after all. It can literally be the weight of abuse holding us down.

Luckily for you, there is a solution in the advancing fields of transpersonal psychology and mind-body medicine because these disciplines look at the person as a holistic system.

You’re made up of mental, emotional, physical, and energetic parts. When all are addressed, healing is accelerated and lasting. With a skilled practitioner, these methods can get you to the source of the problem quickly and easily. Once you see the connections, you can let them go.

This is done by accessing your unconscious mind and how it stores experiences in your body. Once found, you can release the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs associated with the experience and the body often responds by healing at the cellular level.


To give you an idea of how this works, one client came to work with me to heal her history of abuse so she could get back to dating to find a man she wanted to spend her life with.

She had several physical issues including chronic bladder infections, sinusitis, and chronic pain in her hips. She had been sexually abused as a young child and then raped by her boyfriend as a young adult. She also suffered the loss of her father when her mom divorced him and took her away from him to another state.

After working with the emotions of shame, guilt, sadness, and fear directly, along with their associated beliefs and where they were held in the body, we were able to see that her bladder had held the beliefs of being unlovable and unsafe. Her sinuses were holding shame and sorrow. Her hips were holding fear and grief.

When each emotion had the opportunity to share its thoughts and beliefs, the client could see how the whole thing happened. It was then she could also let go of the emotions and the stories they were holding onto.


The result? The pain left and the beliefs about safety and unlovability lifted too and the body healed.

After understanding and releasing these emotions, their beliefs, and their own stories about what happened, her body was able to heal.

An additional benefit is that she was able to see the narrative the body held as something separate from her. She could identify with all the things these emotions believed but she wasn’t wrapped up in them like she would be wrapped up in discussing her story with a traditional therapist.

These mind-body transpersonal techniques are what set her free and helped her heal her history and her health in the process.


Another client came to me with a desire to heal a condition she was about to have a third surgery. As we began to look at how her abuse had affected her physical body, we were able to piece all the parts together. She could now see why certain objects would trigger her into a panic.

Basic everyday objects like a round woven rug or a toy fire engine sent her into hysterics. When we put it together that those things were in the room when she was molested as a child, she was able to let go and her body healed within a few days. She did not need the surgery and has been well ever since.

RELATED: The Brutal Truth About Loving A Man Who Was Sexually Abused As A Child


You see, your body has its own wisdom— it believes things that you have no idea about.

If you have ever seen the image of an iceberg as a metaphor for what you’re consciously aware of used to demonstrate how much of our minds are above the surface in terms of awareness, you know that up to 90 percent of our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are deep down under the water.

It is in that 90 percent that these emotions live with their thoughts, beliefs, and feelings keeping you underwater until you let them out.

Your emotions aren’t just these negative forces that are here to mess up your life. These so-called negative emotions are there to teach you something about who you really are. I have come to see them as teaching emotions. All they want is the very same thing that you do; to be seen, heard, understood, and loved. It’s really quite simple. Begin to think of these emotions as teaching emotions. They just want to help you and often believe they are protecting you.


Whole Person Integration Technique is the process I created to help you locate, listen to, and release these thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that may be associated with your pain and persistent symptoms. It has helped thousands of people heal. 

You don’t have to be a slave to mystery symptoms or to the illnesses you have. You can add transpersonal and mind-body medicine processes to the protocols you are already using. 

Healing isn’t one size fits all. You have a unique way you stored the memories of your experiences. There is a unique way to set them free. You can set yourself free from the abuse and illness connection with simple techniques and expert help.

If you feel strongly that your illness and mystery symptoms are connected to your history of abuse, releasing the emotional root causes can help you heal and live the productive life you’ve always dreamed of.


RELATED: You Are Not At The Mercy Of Your Emotions

Dr. Meg Haworth is a seasoned doctor who offers holistic wellness solutions. She uses the power of the mind to help abuse survivors heal from chronic illness.