Early exposure to stress triggers mental disorders

Early exposure to stress triggers mental disorders

Besides the early establishment of a connection between stress and ulcers, blood pressure, etc., it has become evident lately that the neurological impact of stress is greater on the developing brains of children.

Moreover, prenatal exposure to stress causes long-term cognitive and mental problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, in children. Additionally, it has been also associated with addiction.

Stress not only hampers one’s headspace in the most negative way possible but also pushes a person to the brink of depression.

Taking a note of the problem, Rebecca Brachman, a neuroscientist at Columbia University, has been on a unique personal mission ever since witnessing a mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, which led to the tragic death of 15 people.

Following the incident, the local school board in New Jersey asked students for suggestions to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy. While a majority of them suggested abolishment of guns, Brachman focused on the mental health of the shooters.

Unfortunately, mass shootings have lately become quite common in the U.S. Many psychiatrists have started looking at the condition of the brain in such instances now, which was not the case a couple of decades ago. Brachman has been striving for deriving a conclusive relationship between mental illness and stress.

Neurological impact of stress greater on developing minds

According to the American Institute of Stress, almost 60 percent of all human illnesses are triggered due to long-term stress. It is precisely due to such staggering numbers that Brachman and her group felt the need to work toward a solution. In fact, severe levels of stress can cause mental breakdowns and other conditions, such as depression, suicide, etc.

Essentially, Brachman and her team of neuroscientists are trying to find appropriate ways, including a pill, procedure or shot, which can help both the brain and immune system in handling stress. She wants to find a vaccine for stress, which could possibly regulate its levels in a person.

External influences determine reaction to stress

As such, stress can be triggered by many external factors. A majority of people who witness traumatic or stressful events react to it differently. This is because the culture, environment and community in which a child lives and grows up play a dominant role in developing and handling stress.

Moreover, several scientists have highlighted that the immunity systems of people going through depression are different from others.

Irrespective of its adverse effects, Sarah Pressman, an associate professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, says “stress as stress in functional,” which can activate the right systems in the moment of crisis, as well as boost the immune system and defenses against stress. However, Brachman does not want to nullify a person’s stress indicators but wants only to suppress them before they become dangerous and develop into a mental illness.

Spread joy to reduce stress

During the developing phase, children should be exposed to a positive environment. Traumatic experiences can massively impact their growth and brain. Besides biological effects, early exposure to stress affects the emotional well-being of the child, thereby impairing his or her stress-coping mechanisms.

If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental health problems, contact the California Mental Health Helpline for guidance on the mental health centers in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 559-3923 or chat online to get advice on the best possible course of action.