Traumatic Events in Early Life: A Risk Factor of Developing Mental Health Disorders

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Mental Health Disorders
  • Mental health disorders are a leading cause of disability worldwide. Affecting 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives.
  • This study will help shed light on how relevant new treatments, such as psychedelics are for the treatment of depression.
  • Especially considering the mounting evidence that psychedelics help with nerve regrowth in the amygdala and hippocampus.

Scientists identified specific alterations to key brain structures in the amygdala and hippocampus of adults, caused by traumatic and stressful events in childhood. Magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scans of 35 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), found a link between neural tissue volume and childhood traumatic stress.

The study found a link between mental health disorders, such as MDD and negative experiences and maltreatment in early life.

According to Peter Silverstone, professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta in Canada, “now that we can actually identify which specific sub-regions of the amygdala or the hippocampus are permanently altered by incidents of childhood abuse, trauma or mistreatment, we can start to focus on how to mitigate or even potentially reverse these changes.” 

Recent improvements in MRI scanning technology allows for the areas of the brain to be studied in more detail.

The study built on a previous research that linked stress and brain volume in animals. Similarly, scientists have shown particular interest in studying childhood development, including learning, memory, management of emotions, fear and stress. Damage done in early years can make the amygdala and hippocampus vulnerable to stresses that come along later in life.

The researchers reported, “although we did not find any significant effect of MDD or long-term antidepressant treatment on the amygdala subnuclei, we did find that childhood adversity was negatively associated with both hippocampal and amygdala volumes.”

Studying stress, trauma and how it affects the brain and regions within it can help manage mental health disorders.

References

Effects of childhood adversity on the volumes of the amygdala subnuclei and hippocampal subfields in individuals with major depressive disorder http://jpn.ca/46-1-e186/

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.

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