A recent study has found that stress in young children and adult depression are linked, indicating that when young children survive trauma, they are twice as likely to later suffer adult depression
The risk is associated with brain circuits being sensitized when they drive stress responses to threats. Further the study suggests that stress sensitization may diminish the brains ability to experience positive feelings.
The research team is from Duke University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Researchers studied 106 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 15. Participants underwent a magnetic image resonance scan and completed measurements of mood and neglect. A second scan was completed two years later.
“Our analyses revealed that over a two-year window during early to mid-adolescence, there was an abnormal decrease in the response of the ventral striatum to reward only in adolescents who had been exposed to emotional neglect, a relatively common form of childhood adversity where parents are persistently emotionally unresponsive and unavailable to their children,” explained first author Dr. Jamie Hanson, in a news release. “Importantly, we further showed that this decrease in ventral striatum activity predicted the emergence of depressive symptoms during this key developmental period,” he added.