Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Many children below the age of six experience serious traumas in their life that can cause serious mental health problems in their future life. Many of them can be in the form of major accidents from cars or fire or it can be involving broken bones or concussions. There are also some cases where children suffer from experience grave diseases such as HIV-AIDS, cancers, leukemia and other infections.

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It is also possible that children have the experience of natural and human-made disasters like earthquakes, floods, wars or ethnic persecution that can traumatize them. There are innumerable cases of children experiencing violence while at school or are into child labor, they get kidnapped, raped or abused. Today it is a well known fact that children are too often the victims of sexual abuse by their caretakers or they are sometimes witnesses to episodes of abusive violence between parents. In fact parents who get divorced are again creating stressful situation for the children (Roth and Friedman, N.D.).

Knowledge about these traumas and some of their possible effects on children have helped the scientific community to link childhood trauma to several other psychological problems such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, Depression etc. In fact today with this growing knowledge it has become possible for therapists in planning the treatment. Even though it cannot be vouched that trauma-focused treatments are better than other kinds of treatment for trauma survivors, many researchers have found that it is beneficial for the psychologists to have a complete history of the patient. As a result it can be said that research has nevertheless shown trauma-focused treatments to be effective (Roth and Friedman, N.D.).

Trauma of any kind has serious impact on individuals, however childhood trauma have serious physiological impact all through the life. Besides, in recent studies conducted by researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “childhood trauma is a potent risk factor for development of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)” (Emory University, 2009).

Scientific research in the field of mental health has proven beyond doubt that early childhood traumas particularly those that happen before the age of six or even before birth of a child can be a root of most long-term depression and anxiety, and other psychological illnesses. Studies have proven that traumas can even alter the chemical reactions that occur in the brain. However, even today the subject of childhood trauma among mental health professionals is yet to be understood.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report in addition to physical, sexual and verbal abuse, anything that causes the child to feel worthless, unlovable, insecure, and even endangered, it is a crime against the child. The AAP report quotes several other examples such as “belittling, degrading or ridiculing a child; making him or her feel unsafe [including threat of abandonment]; failing to express affection, caring and love; neglecting mental health, medical or educational needs.” (Murray, 2009).

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Children are also under severe pressure and stress if they experience parental fighting, domestic violence, and bullying in school or community, as well as failure to curb bullying behavior by siblings or peers. An absence of consistent rules and boundaries also makes a child feel unsafe. Researchers have also pointed out that some extremely traumatic events occurring during pregnancy can cause serious problem to the childe. In fact it is said that the mother passes to her unborn child through stress hormones such as noradrenalin or cortisol. As a result of such events during pregnancy, it is possible that the child can be born anxious or depressed.

Further, it is also said that some traumas can also be so severe that the consequential symptoms and behaviors is genetically passed on to the generations. For instance, if a mother of a daughter experienced any trauma of physical abuse, it is possible that the daughter can be traumatized by the abuse her mother and may feel fearful or depressed. These are some of the possible developmental consequences of childhood trauma (Murray, 2009).

Studies have found that individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) reported higher levels of childhood trauma including sexual, physical and emotional abuse or emotional and physical neglect. Even though CFS is mainly linked with infections of the immune system, infectious diseases that may to lead to fatigue include pneumonia, diarrhea, and bronchitis, it is linked with childhood trauma more recently. Studies have shown that exposure to trauma to be six times higher risk of CFS.

Reports suggest that sexual abuse, emotional abuse and emotional neglect that a child faces are probably associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Several comparative studies suggest that patients with CFS are also more likely when compared to control group to have depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Researchers linked it with the cortisol levels which were found to decrease in patients with CFS who experienced childhood trauma, but not in those with CFS who had not been subjected to trauma. Hence, it can be concluded that any kind of stress experienced early in life may increase the biological susceptibility of the individual to CFS (, 2009).

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In yet another study, it was found that, individuals who experienced no-trauma compared to the ones who underwent childhood-trauma had “less positive emotions, more negative emotions, greater eyeblink response, and greater skin conductance” (Shear, 2007). Therefore, it can be said that it is monitoring of childhood trauma has implications for preventive intervention especially in the case of CFS. Besides, it is also good for the clinicians when evaluating patients to consider childhood history of trauma of importance as it can bring about helpful interventions all through the treatment process.


Emory University (2009). Childhood Trauma And Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Risk Biologically Linked. ScienceDaily. Web.

Murray, B. (2009) What Is Childhood Trauma? Web.

physorg. (2009) Childhood trauma associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Medicine & Health / Diseases. Web.

Roth, S. and Friedman, M.J., (N.D.) Childhood Trauma Remembered: A Report on the Current Scientific Knowledge Base and its Applications. The International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Web.

Shear, K.M. (2007) Long-Term Impact of Childhood Trauma. Journal Watch Psychiatry.

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"Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." PsychologyWriting, 22 May 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome'. 22 May.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." May 22, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." May 22, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Childhood Trauma and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." May 22, 2022.