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Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are things that happen before adulthood that can cause trauma. Or they're things that make a child feel like their home isn't safe or stable. Some examples of ACEs include violence, neglect, abuse, and family mental health or substance use problems.

What are some examples of ACEs?

Here are some of the most common types of ACEs.

There are other childhood experiences that can cause trauma as well. For example, things like discrimination, being bullied, and being in foster care can also cause stress that can have long-term effects.

What happens when you've had ACEs?

ACEs are common. Most people have at least one. How you are affected by an ACE depends on the type of ACE and how much distress it caused.

People who have multiple ACEs tend to have more physical and mental health problems than people with few or no ACEs. This may be because of physical changes that can happen in a child's body when they have ongoing stress. It may also be because of health-harming behaviors (like smoking or risky sexual behavior) that are more common in people with more ACEs.

But having had ACEs doesn't mean that you will have physical or mental health problems. It just means that your risk for those things is higher. There are things you can do to reduce the effects of ACEs and take care of your mental and physical health.

How can you reduce the effects?

The best thing you can do is to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. Here are some ways to do that.

Many adults have spent a lifetime learning to live with the effects of ACEs. But it's never too late to get help or to make positive changes.

Credits for Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Current as of: June 25, 2023

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