The Silent Saboteur: Connecting Childhood Trauma with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Welcome to our blog sanctuary, a space dedicated to the healing journey of women who carry the hidden impacts of childhood trauma and wellbeing in adulthood.

This blog is more than just a collection of posts, it's a refuge for conquering your past, a wellness tool kit for coping and a beacon of hope to turn hidden wounds into new found sources of strength and resilience.

Hi, I'm Sarah


Living with the hidden impact of PTSD, you can grow up dissociating when you’re faced with stress, confrontation or uncomfortable situations; as a coping mechanism, you can develop this as a protective ‘trauma response’ as a child to escape emotional or physical pain.

This leaves you feeling disconnected from yourself, struggling to regulate your emotions and lead to a rollercoaster of highs and lows that leave you feeling lost and misunderstood by others.

One of the profound, yet often overlooked impacts of childhood trauma is its link to chronic fatigue and autoimmune illnesses. Let’s delve into the scientific research to understand how these connections work and provide you with some practical steps to begin the healing process.

The Science Behind Childhood Trauma and Health Issues

1. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Research has established a strong connection between childhood trauma and chronic fatigue syndrome. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals who experienced childhood trauma were six times more likely to develop CFS as adults. The prolonged stress from trauma keeps the body’s stress-response system activated, leading to adrenal fatigue and chronic exhaustion.

2. Autoimmune Diseases

Childhood trauma has also been linked to the development of autoimmune diseases, which includes CFS/ME, Multiple Sclerosis, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. According to a study in JAMA Psychiatry, individuals with a history of childhood abuse or neglect have a significantly higher risk of developing autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis.

Did you know, chronic stress from unhealed childhood trauma can lead to a state of persistent inflammation, which is a key factor in autoimmune disorders.

3. The Nervous System and Inflammation

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates involuntary bodily functions, can be severely affected by childhood trauma. Dysregulation of the ANS leads to a heightened stress response, which can cause chronic inflammation. Inflammation is a common pathway linking stress to various health issues, including fatigue and autoimmune diseases.

Recognizing the Signs

Understanding the link between childhood trauma and these health issues is crucial. Here are five signs that your chronic fatigue or autoimmune illness might be rooted in your childhood trauma:

  1. Persistent Fatigue: Feeling constantly tired despite resting.
  2. Frequent Illnesses: A weakened immune system making you more susceptible to infections.
  3. Joint Pain and Stiffness: Common symptoms of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
  4. Brain Fog: Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or decision making.
  5. Emotional Dysregulation: Experiencing extreme emotional reactions or feeling numb and disconnected.

Quick Win: Steps to Start Healing

  1. Mind-Body Practices: Incorporate practices like yoga, Qigong or meditation into your daily routine to calm your nervous system and reduce inflammation.
  2. Therapeutic Support: Work with a women’s childhood trauma and chronic fatigue specialist (such as myself) or do your research on the internet. The key is to work with professionals that you feel comfortable with and have the tools and techniques to help you get through this.
  3. Nutritional Support: Maintain a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid processed foods and sugar, which can exacerbate inflammation.
  4. Regular Exercise: Engage in gentle, physical activity to boost your immune system and reduce stress. Even gentle activities like a few minutes slow, daily walking. If your bed-bound, like I experienced, you can gently rotate your feet, raise your arms above your head and then back down, even crawl to the bathroom and back, (something I did, many a time, even if it took me an hour to crawl back to my bed!).
  5. Sleep Hygiene: Prioritise good sleep habits by maintaining a regular sleep ritual, create a restful environment, and avoiding screens at least 2 hours before bedtime.


This reflects the longer term struggles and journey of many women dealing with the hidden impacts of childhood trauma, even decades later. If you find yourself experiencing similar symptoms, know that you’re not alone. By understanding the connection between childhood trauma and chronic health issues, you can begin to make subtle changes to your daily routine to help reduce the symptoms and flare-ups.

Ready for some inspirational tools and tips to help you conquer your past and navigate life’s challenges today, let’s connect on Instagram

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