Dr. Thompson

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Thompson

Last Updated on:
June 19, 2024

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Childhood trauma can have profound and lasting effects on an individual’s mental and emotional well-being. Understanding and identifying these traumas through tools like the Childhood Trauma Test (ACES Test) is crucial for seeking the right support and treatment. 

At Arbor Wellness, we are dedicated to helping individuals uncover and heal from their past traumas to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives. For more information on treatment options for individuals struggling with unresolved trauma, call us now at 629-217-2658 or verify your insurance now. 

Childhood Trauma Test (ACES Test)

Understanding Your ACES Score

Your ACES score is the sum of all affirmative responses to the ten questions in the Childhood Trauma Test. Each question pertains to a different type of adverse experience, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction such as domestic violence or substance abuse. The resulting score, ranging from 0 to 10, reflects the number of adverse experiences you have encountered during your childhood.

What Your Score Means

A higher ACES score indicates a greater number of adverse experiences, which correlates with an increased likelihood of experiencing long-term effects from childhood trauma. Research has shown that individuals with higher ACES scores are at a greater risk for various health and social problems, including:

  • Mental Health Issues: Higher ACES scores are strongly associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


  • Physical Health Problems: Chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are more common among those with high ACES scores. This is often due to the prolonged stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms developed in response to trauma.


  • Behavioral Issues: Individuals with higher scores may exhibit behavioral problems such as aggression, substance abuse, and difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships. These behaviors are often coping mechanisms for dealing with unresolved trauma.


  • Social Challenges: Higher ACES scores can lead to difficulties in social settings, including problems with trust, communication, and forming lasting relationships..

The Importance of Context

While a high ACES score indicates a higher likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes, it does not determine your fate. It’s crucial to understand that the ACES Test is a tool for identifying potential areas of concern and does not account for the full complexity of an individual’s life. Many people with high ACES scores lead successful, healthy lives, particularly when they have access to supportive relationships and effective interventions.

How Common is Childhood Trauma?

Childhood trauma is more common than many people realize. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of adults report at least one adverse childhood experience, and more than one in five report three or more. These experiences are not confined to any specific demographic and can affect individuals from all backgrounds.

Causes of Childhood Trauma

Childhood trauma can arise from various sources, including:

  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Neglect or abandonment
  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Substance abuse within the household
  • Mental illness of a family member
  • Parental separation or divorce
  • Incarceration of a household member

These experiences can significantly impact a child’s development and lead to long-term consequences.

Don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. In the case of a medical emergency please contact 911 or visit your local emergency department.

Childhood Trauma And Mental Health

The link between childhood trauma and mental health issues is well-documented and profoundly impactful. The ACES Test is a vital tool in identifying those at risk and understanding the breadth of trauma’s effects on mental health. By recognizing these connections, individuals and healthcare providers can better address and treat the underlying causes of mental health disorders.

Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders

Research has shown that individuals with high ACES scores are at an increased risk for a range of mental health issues, including:

  • Depression and Anxiety: Chronic exposure to stress and trauma during childhood can alter brain function and chemistry, leading to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety. Individuals with high ACES scores are significantly more likely to suffer from major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.



  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Experiencing traumatic events during childhood can lead to the development of PTSD, characterized by intrusive memories, flashbacks, and severe emotional distress. This condition often persists into adulthood, affecting daily functioning and overall well-being.



  • Substance Abuse Disorders: Many individuals turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the pain and stress of unresolved childhood trauma. This self-medication can lead to addiction and further complicate mental health issues.



  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors: The intense emotional pain and feelings of worthlessness stemming from childhood trauma can increase the risk of suicidal ideation and attempts. High ACES scores are strongly correlated with a higher prevalence of suicide among affected individuals.



  • Personality Disorders: Long-term exposure to trauma can disrupt normal personality development, resulting in disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). These conditions can cause significant challenges in relationships and self-perception.

The Mechanisms Behind The Impact

The impact of childhood trauma on mental health is mediated through several mechanisms:

  • Neurobiological Changes: Trauma can cause lasting changes in brain structure and function, particularly in areas involved in emotion regulation, memory, and stress response. These changes can predispose individuals to mental health disorders.

  • Psychological Effects: Traumatic experiences can lead to maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors, such as negative self-image, distrust of others, and difficulty managing emotions.

  • Behavioral Consequences: Coping mechanisms developed in response to trauma, such as substance use or self-harm, can exacerbate mental health issues and lead to additional complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Unresolved Childhood Trauma

Unresolved childhood trauma can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Intrusive memories or flashbacks
  • Emotional numbness or detachment
  • Difficulty trusting others
  • Hypervigilance or being easily startled
  • Persistent feelings of shame or guilt
  • Chronic stress and health problems

Addressing these symptoms with professional help can significantly improve one’s quality of life.

How Long Does It Take To Heal From Childhood Trauma?

Healing from childhood trauma is a highly individual process that depends on various factors, including the nature of the trauma, the individual’s resilience, and the support they receive. While there is no set timeline, with consistent effort and the right therapeutic interventions, many individuals experience significant improvements in their mental and emotional well-being over time.

How Is Childhood Trauma Treated?

Recognizing the impact of childhood trauma on mental health is a critical step in seeking appropriate treatment and support. Early identification and intervention can mitigate the long-term effects of trauma and improve mental health outcomes. 

Treatment approaches for trauma-related mental health issues often include:

  • Therapeutic Interventions: Various forms of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), can help individuals process and heal from traumatic experiences.

  • Medication Management: In some cases, medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms and improve overall mental health.

  • Group Therapy: Connecting with others who have experienced similar traumas can provide valuable emotional support and reduce feelings of isolation.

  • Holistic Approaches: Integrating mindfulness practices, physical exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices can support mental health and overall well-being.

At Arbor Wellness, our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to providing personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual’s needs. 

Heal From Childhood Trauma at Arbor Wellness

If you believe that you or a loved one may be affected by childhood trauma, we encourage you to take the Childhood Trauma Test and seek professional help. Arbor Wellness is here to support you on your journey to healing and recovery. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.

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