Mindfulness protects adults' health from the impacts of childhood adversity

September 13, 2014
Science Daily/Temple University
Adults who were abused or neglected as children are known to have poorer health, but adults who tend to focus on and accept their reactions to the present moment—or are mindful—report having better health, regardless of their childhood adversity, researchers report.

Nearly one-fourth of those surveyed reported three or more types of adverse childhood experiences, and almost 30 percent reported having three or more stress-related health conditions like depression, headache, or back pain, noted the researchers. However, the risk of having multiple health conditions was nearly 50 percent lower among those with the highest level of mindfulness compared to those with the lowest. This was true even for those who had multiple types of childhood adversity.

Regardless of the amount of childhood adversity, those who were more mindful also reported significantly better health behaviors, like getting enough sleep, and better functioning, such as having fewer days per month when they felt poorly -- either mentally or physically, said Whitaker.

"Our results suggest that mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma," he said. "Mindfulness training may help adults, including those with a history of childhood trauma, to improve their own well-being and be more effective with children."
While many smaller studies have shown that learning mindfulness practices like meditation can improve psychological and physical symptoms such as depression and pain, more research is needed to see if interventions to increase mindfulness can improve the health and functioning of those who have had adverse childhood experiences, Whitaker said.

With nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults reporting one or more types of adverse childhood experiences, Whitaker noted that "mindfulness practices could be a promising way to reduce the high costs to our society that result from the trauma adults experienced during childhood."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140913141308.htm

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