Super Bowl Sunday brought us not just a football championship, but also the big reveal of how the character Jack died on the popular TV show “This Is Us.” And this is the article I wish I’d written about it.
Toxic stress in childhood affects our nervous system, and even changes our DNA. The result is increased risk of health problems ranging from depression to cancer. “This Is Us” highlights three of these potential problems in the struggles of siblings Kate with weight, Randall with anxiety, and Kevin with addiction.
Whether intentionally or by coincidence, the writers on the show are connecting the dots of a public health crisis that has been hidden in plain sight for far too long.
The good news is that there is a solution and the brain can be rewired at any age. For those of us with eating, weight, or health concerns, this research points out the importance of understanding our story as we search for solutions.
For folks with very high doses of childhood adversity, the risk for developing America’s leading killer, heart disease, is like eating 33 strips of bacon a day.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and leader in the movement to adopt the Adverse Childhood Events (ACE) screening for all children. I’ve also included a link to her TED talk “How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across A Lifetime.”
Additionally, her recently published book The Deepest Well: Healing The Longterm Effects of Childhood Adversity is a must read if you’re interested in understanding how we can improve physical and mental health for our children and ourselves.