Adverse Childhood Experiences Impact Us More Than We Might Think

Adverse Childhood Experiences can have a major impact on behavior and physical and mental health. The experiences one walks through as a child can affect development. Additionally, untreated trauma from adverse childhood experiences can present throughout one’s lifetime.

While it is true that some adverse experiences can build resiliency in children, often times untreated trauma can lead to major issues throughout childhood and into adulthood. Adverse experiences include, but are not limited to, the way a person was spoken to as a child by a parent, whether a person experienced physical or sexual abuse, whether a person felt loved or encouraged, whether a person experienced the divorce or separation of their parents, whether a person had a family member who was incarcerated, and whether a person had a parent who was addicted to drugs or alcohol or suffered from any mental disorders.

The first eighteen years of a person’s life are critical to development. At any given point, if that development is delayed or interrupted by any number of external factors, there could be a delayed response development resulting in behavioral and physical and mental health problems, including adopting coping mechanisms.

Please know that you are not alone! According to the CDC, about 61% of adults surveyed across 25 states reported that they had experienced at least one type of ACE, and nearly 1 in 6 reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs. (


The first step to assessing your ACE Score is to take the questionnaire.

The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.

Prior to your 18th birthday:

  1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often… Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever… Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way? or Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  5. Did you often or very often feel that … You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  7. Was your mother or stepmother:
    Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic, or who used street drugs?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?                        No___If Yes, enter 1 __
  10. Did a household member go to prison?
    No___If Yes, enter 1 __

Now add up your “Yes” answers: _ This is your ACE Score

Remember, the higher your score, the more likely you may be at risk.

If you need to speak with someone, please know our psychiatrists are available to conduct an initial psychiatric evaluation to help start you on your road to recovery and healing. We have a team of medical doctors, including addiction specialists, nurses, and licensed counselors who also want the best for you. To find an office closest to you, please call 844-728-4929. We help people and we want to help you.

Mental Health and Mental Illness

Mental health is a person’s emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It plays a large role in the thoughts we have and our behaviors.

Mental health determines how we handle stress, relate to other people, and the choices we make.

Mental Health and Mental Illness – what’s the difference?

It’s important to distinguish the difference between mental health and mental illness. People can experience periods of poor mental health without having a mental illness. People with mental illness can have good mental health.

Mental illness affects an individual’s thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors. Examples include depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders, and anxiety.

A person’s mental health can change with time and depends on their ability to cope. Major life changes like divorce, job loss, or the death of a loved one can change a person’s mental health.


Managing mental health is of primary importance to ensure a person’s wellness. Depression and other mental health issues can lead to health issues, like stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.

Unfortunately, mental illness is common throughout our country. The CDC’s statistics illustrate how common mental illness is in our country

  • More than 50% of people will be diagnosed with some type of mental illness or disorder during their lifetime.
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.

There has been tremendous progress in understanding the origins of poor mental health. There are great methods of treatment that prove effective.

Pathway Healthcare’s mental health care providers use proven practices to help patients. It’s important for your wellness to take care of your physical and mental health.



More than Just the Winter Blues, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is Depression

Yep, it’s that time of year again! No, I was not referring to legging session or that time of year when you gain 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I was referring to that time of year when you see an increase in SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It’s this time of year when we tend to miss our deceased loved ones the most as we get together with our friends and family.

But there is more to it than just that! We spend all summer being outdoors spending time at the beach or out on the water taking in as much sun as we can. 😊 I sure do miss those days and can’t wait for some warmer weather!

According to the Mayo Clinic, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression said to be related to the change in seasons. While the specific cause of SAD is unknown, it has been attributed to the reduced level of sunlight which disrupts our body’s internal clock which can lead to an increase in feelings of depression.

It is also believed that a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, caused by reduced sunlight can also trigger depression.

The body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood, is also disrupted by the change in season.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), and in more extreme cases medications and psychotherapy.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms include:

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Having low energy
  • Having problems with sleeping
  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
  • Feeling sluggish or agitated
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty
  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide


There are different symptoms during different seasons!

Fall and Winter tend to cause:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite change
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy


While Spring and Summer can look like:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss


Don’t brush off those feelings as the “winter blues” You can take steps to ward off seasonal depression.

  • Get up
  • Get moving
  • Meditate
  • Use guided imagery
  • Music or art therapy
  • Get outdoors!

Take advantage of the pretty days that we are blessed with during the winter session.  Not only will you feel more energized by the sunlight and outdoor activities, but you will surely notice a difference in your mood!

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.


Call us if you or a loved one is struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other type of depression or anxiety. 1-844-728-4929


Jillian Mosley MS, LPC, Behavioral Health CounselorBy: Jillian Mosley MS, LPC, Behavioral Health Counselor at our Mobile Alabama office.

Jillian Mosley has a Masters in Community Counseling from the University of South Alabama and obtained her LPC license in the State of Alabama. She has been with Pathway Healthcare for the past year. Jillian has experience working with patients with ADHD, psychiatric and behavioral issues as well as with patients battling depression, anxiety and addictions.


Depression and Sadness and Your Recovery

Do you feel extreme sadness despite great accomplishments or disappointments in your life?Depression is a serious mental illness that goes untreated. It’s hard to know how to deal with depression and sadness, alone.


Have you ever heard someone say, “If you would get out of the house then you wouldn’t be depressed anymore?” This is ironic because a symptom of depression is a lack of motivation. I am a person in long term recovery which means I have not used a mood or mind-altering chemical in years. I have suffered from depression my entire life. 


As a child, I remember feeling alone, sad and scared. I recall going to the skating rink with friends and it was so much fun. I remember skating and this horrible feeling of doom came over me. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be having fun. 


The first time I drank alcohol I vividly remember that I felt “enough.” I felt ease, happiness and felt like I belonged. I self-medicated my depression with alcohol and other drugs throughout my teen years. The progression of my alcoholism soon began to actually make my depression worse. I wasn’t drinking anymore for relief and fun but to be able to function in daily life. 


A typical day for me was: wake up and take diet pills for energy, take opiate pain killers throughout the day for energy, drink immediately after work to relax, and then take Xanax at bedtime to be able to relax and sleep. 


I began my journey of recovery in my early 20’s. I was told by another member in a twelve-step fellowship that if you work the steps then you wouldn’t need an antidepressant. I suffered for years in sobriety because I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes my depression. I was 15 years sober, working in a treatment facility, suicide prevention specialist, and planning my own death by suicide. I felt ashamed and like I was a failure. I am so grateful that another member of the fellowship reached out to me and suggested I go get professional help and treatment for my depression. 


Feeling Sad and Being Depressed

There is a huge difference between feeling sad and being depressed. 

Sadness is a feeling typically involving loss or expectations not met. 

Depression is a prolonged state of sadness that has symptoms. Here are some common symptoms: 

  • Tiredness
  • trouble focusing or concentrating anger
  • Irritability
  • Frustration
  • loss of interest in pleasurable or fun activities
  • sleep issues (too much or too little)
  • no energy
  • craving unhealthy foods
  • anxiety
  • isolation

“It’s not a sin to be sick.” Depression is a brain/mood disorder. I did not choose to have depression and I can’t stay well if I don’t get medical treatment and counseling.  

Many people believe that depression is a sign of weakness but I disagree. I believe people that suffer from depression are very strong because they continue to trudge through daily activities when they want to give up. Will power doesn’t “cure” depression. 


Depression is Not the End

A medical professional can treat the imbalance of brain chemicals and a counselor can help with new coping skills. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous suffered tremendously from depression prior to and during his sobriety. Many people suffer, but you don’t have to suffer alone. We are fortunate to have the medications and support services that we do today. 

Please do not suffer alone! There are professionals and peers who know what you are going through, that are more than willing to help you on your pathway to recovery and happy life. There is hope!


By: Kimberley Lamar ADC, ICADC, CRSS

Pathway Healthcare Recovery Navigator