Massage therapy has been found to lower stress and effect relaxation. In recent months, MASSAGE Magazine has reported on various research studies showing that abuse and trauma experienced in childhood may lead to arthritis, headache and other pain conditions later in life, and even shortened lifespan; and that children who receive lots of good attention grow up to be better-adjusted adults.

In new research, a team led by psychiatrists at Brown University and Butler Hospital found that healthy adults who reported being mistreated as kids appear to have an elevated inflammatory response to stress compared to adults who had happier childhoods.

“Seemingly healthy adults, if they were abused or neglected during childhood, may suffer physiological consequences decades later,”
according to a press release from the university.

To conduct the research, the team recruited 69 adults, ranging in age from their late teens to early 60s. After administering a battery of tests to ensure that the subjects were psychiatrically healthy and not taking any medicines or drugs that would bias the results, the team surveyed them extensively about their childhood experiences. Of the group, 19 reported moderate to severe neglect or abuse.

To measure each group’s inflammatory response to stress, the researchers then asked them to undergo a laboratory role-play called the Trier Social Stress Test, in which they had to appear before a panel of “judges” and both speak about their qualifications for their job and then count backward from a number by 13s. All the while, the researchers were measuring various vital signs and collecting blood samples.

Among the subjects who reported adverse childhood experiences, the concentrations of interleukin-6 in their blood were always elevated above those of the control group, and the gap widened considerably as the subject recovered from the psychological stress during several hours after the role-play.

“Childhood adversity may lead to unhealthy stress response in adult life” is running in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Related articles:
Stress in Childhood May Shorten Lifespan

Childhood Behavior Linked to Adult Pain

Abuse in Childhood Can Lead to Headaches in Adulthood