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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromcait: How Childhood Trauma is Related to Burnout (Even if You Think You Have None)

Even if you do not think you have experienced childhood trauma, there are many ways that childhood experiences can impact your ability to regulate your emotions. Adverse childhood experiences or ACEs include both events that happened to you like abuse or neglect and events that you simply witnessed. Trauma impacts child brain development at an epigenetic level, causing deficiencies in the part of the brain responsible for executive functioning and emotion regulation. In today’s #straightfromcait episode, host Cait Donovan discusses the link between ACEs and burnout.

Adverse childhood experiences impact the brain in a way that is very similar to the effects seen from long term stress. These experiences have a direct impact on the neurochemicals and hormones that are needed for regulating stress. Since your stress system cannot function the way it is supposed to, you are more prone to burnout. This further demonstrates how burnout is systemic and not the fault of the individual.

If you have a higher ACEs score, such as one that is at a 4 or above, you are more likely to have a higher level of emotional dysregulation. Any adverse events that happened in your childhood physically changed the way your brain developed and caused you to be more susceptible to burnout. Remember to be gentle with yourself, because burnout is not your fault and it may take longer for you to recover from stress than someone with a lower ACEs score.


You don't have to be the ‘direct victim’ of abuse or neglect for it to affect you and your physical and emotional and mental health later on in life.” (6:54-7:06 | Cait)

I truly believe that if we spend more time helping families to live healthier with one another that is the way we eliminate burnout long-term. That's the way we really hashtag end burnout culture.” (8:21-8:35 | Cait)

“There are interruptions to proper brain development when you experience adverse childhood experiences. These changes in brain development are nearly the same ones as we see with long term chronic stress.” (9:10-9:30 | Cait)

Adverse childhood experiences have various effects on the actual neurochemicals and hormones of your stress response and the structures that they attach to, and that interrupts your stress cycle somehow.” (15:32-15:50 | Cait)

“If your stress response system is not working the way that it's supposed to, you are going to be more likely to burn out.” (23:24-23:33 | Cait)

Burnout is not your fault. You do deserve better.” (25:04-25:06 | Cait)


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