No one thinks twice when an adult complains about their high level of stress considering that the average adult life is exceedingly hectic. Whether they’re putting their noses to the grindstone at a full-time job or juggling multiple freelance gigs, most adults know that stress can be a killer if not managed properly.
However, researchers say that childhood stress may be a root cause of this anxiety later in life.
According to the Deseret News, a Harvard study found that a stressful childhood could lead to chronic illnesses in the future, including heart disease and diabetes.
The researchers examined data from a 1958 British Birth Cohort Study to determine what happened to around 6,700 child participants later in life. Even with low levels of stress as adults, there was still a strong correlation between childhood anxiety and cardio-metabolic illnesses.
“We know that the childhood period is really important for setting up trajectories of health and well-being,” said Ashley Winning, an author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow in social and behavioral sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The long term study included “psychological distress profiles” conducted over six separate assessments between the ages of seven and 42. Afterwards, each individual was placed into a category of either no distress, childhood only, adulthood only, or persistent distress.
Correspondingly, they also examined nine bio-markers of immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic function in order to find any associations between stress and chronic health risk.
They concluded that psychological distress at any point in life can influence cardio-metabolic risk.
With younger individuals aged 15 to 24 being more likely to experience mental illness, sometimes even leading to substance abuse disorders, than any other age group, finding preventative methods for reducing the risk of mental illness may be the only way to deter these stress-related health risks.
The Hoops News reported that research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that having a pet dog at home can reduce these risks of childhood anxiety and in turn chronic illness.
The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) has long been an advocate for the positive effects of having a childhood pet.
Health officials in the United Kingdom and Australia have even linked pet dogs to a healthier body mass index (BMI) between the ages of five and six, possibly due to to walking and playing with the pet.
Experts believe that dogs can improve mental health by stimulating conversation through communicative cues that can open them up and reduce social anxiety.
The results of a new study conducted at the Bassett Medical Center in New York found that out of the 643 child participants aged between four and 10, 58% of which had dogs. Only 12% of those with dogs experienced social anxiety, while 21% of those without pet dogs had anxiety.