Early trauma influences adult behavior, say psychiatrists
separated from their mothers or abandoned soon after birth grow up into anxious or depressed adults, said city psychotherapists,
confirming recent findings of a study on animal models published in the Journal of Neuroscience. A study on rats carried out
by the Tata Institute of Fundamental
in Colaba and the University of Toronto suggests that negative experiences in early life changed their brain circuits in a
way that increased their vulnerability to stress during adulthood.
any individual, the chance of developing psychiatric disorders is a combination of genetic history and life experience,”
said Vidita Vaidya, biologist at TIFR. “The individual could either be vulnerable or resilient. Clinical information
from children with a history of trauma and neglect indicates that negative experience can contribute to the risk for psychiatric
TIFR study suggests in particular that major changes in the way the serotonin2A receptors function in the brain based on the
quality of life experience may be important in determining how experiences changes whether an individual is vulnerable or
protected from psychiatric disorders.
quality of care one receives in early life changes the extent and manner in which this receptor functions and may be important
to the effects of early life in shaping the extent of anxiety in adulthood,” she said.
situations in early childhood influence both brain structure and growth. Parents thus need to secure their kids,” said
Dayal Mirchandani, a psychiatrist who treats such cases.
death of a parent early in life or the child getting hospitalised without the parent could also be reasons for stress and
anxiety in adulthood. These children could grow into adults with low self-esteem, relationship problems or even confusion
get encoded in the brain before the age of three. Therefore there could be trauma even before language develops,” said
Dr Rani Raote, psychotherapist, who has worked with adult patients with early separation. “We assume that memory is
what we can write and repeat. But there is implicit memory from images, sounds and sensation that can manifest into various
forms in adulthood.”
to psychiatrists and psychotherapists, stress and trauma in the first four years of brain formation affects the child’s
intelligence and emotional stability. During these early years, the child needs active nurturing that makes them more resilient
to deal with difficulties in adult life.
damage from negative early life experiences can also be repaired or lessened with a responsible support system. The TIFR study
showed that some of this could be returned to normal by administering a drug that blocks the serotonin2A receptor.
from therapy, symptoms can also be managed with the help of loving partners, active nurturing by caregivers over time, sensitive
teachers as well as meditation,” said Mirchandani.
Arpan is an organisation working towards Spreading
Awareness on Child Sexual Abuse.