CHILDHOOD TRAUMA AND DEPRESSION
At the age of five, Jane experienced unimaginable horror in her life, an armed robbery that got both her parents killed. At seven, she was raped by her foster parent. Now she is 25 suffering from depression. How exactly did that happen?
THE ROLE THAT CHILDHOOD TRAUMA PLAYS IN DEPRESSION
Childhood memories give us a longing desire of wanting to re-live those moments but unfortunately, not everyone can boast of a stainless childhood.
Robert Scaer, a traumatologist/neurologist defines trauma as “Any negative life event that occurs in a position of relative helplessness”.
Trauma is an extreme stress that overcomes the body’s ability to cope and has been linked to certain disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Terrible life events that a child may experience ranges from sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, abandonment and neglect. However, not every child who has been exposed to traumatic events is predisposed to depression. Depression is developed differently based on one’s vulnerability to predisposing factors.
“Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing.” Jennifer Brown
Research has proven that childhood trauma causes multiple changes in ones brain leading to a smaller hippocampus(the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory) as well as changes in one’s neurochemistry interrupting the regulation of cortisol( a hormone released in response to stress). The earlier the experience of the event the more severe the effect later on.
Research suggests child abuse disturbs brain wiring causing impaired neural connections. This explains why the effects of trauma in early life is so profound and long-lasting. Researchers believe that these modifications may be responsible for development of depressive disorders as well as suicidal behaviours.
Recurrent traumatic experiences are connected to a high risk of developing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. According to research conducted by the University of Liverpool, traumatic life events remain the major reason why people suffer from depression and anxiety.
Individuals who experienced childhood trauma are prone to suicide and are often resistant to medication used to treat depression. The best way to manage depression in this case is psychotherapy.