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How Childhood Abuse Can Affect the Brain as a Adult
A child that has been abused is far more likely to as one that did not. This may sound like just common sense. There is research to show chemical and physical changes in the brain as a result. Due to research, mental health professionals are recommending testing and treatment of abused children early as possible. In almost every case of severe adult depression either physical, sexual, emotional abuse or a combination of any and all were experienced as a child.
Statistically speaking women are ten times more likely to experience childhood abuse than men. This means women are twice as likely to from being abused as a child. A child physically abused child has a 59% chance of experiencing depression later in life.
The recovery of depression in an adult requires investigation into the person’s early life. Researchers know that traumatic experiences such as neglect or childhood abuse can result in changes in the chemistry and even structures of the brain. The stress response system is sensitized and those who are abused have elevated response to environmental pressures.
In a study, researchers compared 680 children who were abused and neglected before the age of 11 with 520 children of the same age, sex, and race. They followed both groups up to the age of 29. The group of abused children had a 75% higher risk of developing major depression as adults.
To undo the damage of abuse to the person mental health professionals must access it, explore it, and process the experience with the patient. Both depression and abuse tend to run together in families passed down from generation to generation. Many children that suffer abuse end up with an assortment of mental problems as they age ranging from learning difficulties, posttraumatic stress disorder, and intense anxiety.
Researchers are testing ways to block or reverse abuse-related biological alterations of the brain. Early findings indicate that some can reverse problems with the stress system in rats raised in stressful environments and may be useful in treating abused children sparing them from adult depression.