The Impact of Maltreatment on the Developing Child (article link)

The Impact of Maltreatment on the Developing Child

By Dr. Dana M. Hagel

Recent neuroimaging studies demonstrate that neuroanatomy is significantly altered among individuals who have experienced childhood maltreatment and abuse-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.”

“The psychological trauma of maltreatment triggers the complex neurochemical and hormonal systems involved in the stress response and in emotional regulation.  When child experiences an abusive insult, in their glucocorticoid [our body’s own steroid system], noradrenergic, and vasopressin-oxytocin systems are activated; this highly adaptive response allows for survival in a dangerous environment.  Chronic activation, however, may result in permanent changes in brain chemistry, structure, and function.  [I believe it is also vitally important that we realize these changes happen in our entire body, not just in our brain — including our nervous system and our immune system!] Over time, maltreated children are at risk for the development of an exaggerated response to relatively minor stress.  Compounding this insult, maltreated children are forced to respond to environmental threats (family violence), rather than engaging in activities necessary for the development of complex emotional, behavioral, and cognitive functioning.“  [bold type is mine]

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