Anxiety, depression and social difficulties are among the effects of childhood traumas. But there are biological changes as well. Childhood abuse can alter the structure of the brain.
Research indicates that over 680.000 children go through abuse every year. More cases get reported every year.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the rate of abuse is growing. Higher reporting rates can be a good thing. They could mean that it’s getting easier to uncover cases of child maltreatment.
How Does Childhood Trauma Affect the Brain?
Experts have found that are various physical effects of childhood traumas. Here are some of the most significant ones:
- Thinner Myelin Coating
What happens in the brains of people who go through severe abuse in childhood? Structural changes occur because of the trauma. Hence, the volume of white matter in the brain decreases.
Thinner myelin coating means that the nerve cells remain unprotected. Additionally, impulses get slowed down.
- Worse Brain Connectivity
In many cases, childhood trauma can alter the structure of the nerves. The centers in the brain that regulate emotion are particularly likely to suffer from damage. Furthermore, it can cause attention issues.
What Are the Consequences?
These changes in the brain cause problems in the areas responsible for emotional regulation. Thus, childhood abuse survivors are likelier to have some form of mental illness.
They may also be more vulnerable to lifestyle problems. When the usual reward system in the brain is disrupted, intoxicants can provide a temporary replacement. Hence, substance abuse is a frequent risk.
A Final Word
It is crucial to be aware of the effects of childhood traumas on the brain. After all, people who had to go through abuse in childhood might need some additional support. Friends, teachers and medical professionals can help a lot with the recovery process.