Can CIDP Be Linked to Childhood Trauma?
Childhood trauma does not only cause later mental disorders in adult life, but it has been linked to the development of chronic inflammatory disorders. CIDP sufferers may not be immune.
By Shiraz Abbas
We tend to think that diseases come randomly, or they come from present-day causes, such as genes, bad diet or recent trauma.
We know that childhood trauma can contribute and even cause the development of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders in adult life.
However, recent research has shown that traumatic childhood experiences, which is officially known as adverse childhood experience (ACE), can be strongly linked to the development of inflammatory autoimmune diseases in adult life.
A 2016 meta-study found a positive link between childhood trauma and inflammatory diseases:
Childhood trauma confers higher risk of adulthood physical and mental illness; however, the biological mechanism mediating this association remains largely unknown. Recent research has suggested dysregulation of the immune system as a possible biological mediator. The present paper conducted a meta-analysis to establish whether early-life adversity contributes to potentially pathogenic pro-inflammatory phenotypes in adult individuals…
…The analysis demonstrates that childhood trauma contributes to a pro-inflammatory state in adulthood, with specific inflammatory profiles depending on the specific type of trauma.
Some other specific diseases also seem to spring up from ACEs:
More specifically, childhood trauma has been suggested to increase vulnerability to several psychiatric disorders, including depression,3 anxiety,4 psychosis5 and post-traumatic stress disorder,4 as well as several chronic physical health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, metabolic syndrome and cancer
So the question here is why does this happen?
There are various explanations that seem to fit well together. First, unpredictable but continuous childhood trauma affects the brain’s development. It damages a person’s ability to healthily deal with anxiety and creates a state of neuroinflammation (inflammation in the brain). This inability to deal with such stressors damages the overall inflammatory response of the body, thus leading to chronic inflammatory diseases which CIDP is a part of.
Since the body’s inflammatory response system is damaged, inflammation is extreme and prolonged.
There is also a behavioral standpoint. Healthline writes that
From a behavioral standpoint, children, teens, and adults who have experienced physical and psychological trauma may also be more likely to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking, substance abuse, overeating, and hypersexuality. These behaviors, in addition to a heightened inflammatory response, can put them at a higher risk for developing certain conditions.
What seems to be happening are two things.
First, the psychological trauma contributes to extreme stressors throughout life which damages a person’s immune and inflammatory responses.
Second, it is often the case that people with traumatic psychological experiences lead unhealthy lifestyles with food, alcohol, drugs or even unhealthy social relationships which increase the risk of autoimmune inflammatory disorders like CIDP.
It also seems that even people who lead healthy lifestyles, the emotional and psychological trauma experienced in childhood can lead to the development of inflammatory diseases later on.
If you have CIDP, you may want to look at some of your childhood experiences and take the ACEs test. It is possible that dealing with your ACEs can help with your CIDP symptoms.
Shiraz Abbas is the founder and manager of the CIDP Neuropathy Support Group. He is also one of the main community educators of IVIG therapy. He resides in Fresno, California. Shiraz can be contacted through our free CIDP advice service at 1-855-782-0574.