Description: You have likely heard about the data that is piling up regarding the relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and beyond childhood incidences of mental and physical illness (if not there are a couple of links in the Reference section below that will provide you with an overview of that work). An obvious question to ask is why is that the case? Physical illness can be partly explained by the longer-term impacts of stress on the functioning of the immune system but what about the increases in mental illness rates, especially of schizophrenia and depression? What else might be involved? Think about that for a minute and then read the article linked below to see what a recent PET scan study suggests as a possible contributing factor.
Source: Long-term Exposure to Adversity May Dampen Dopamine Production, Christopher Bergland, The Athlete’s Way, Psychology Today.
Date: November 13, 2019
Photo Credit: Psychology Today, igorstevanovic/Shutterstock
The possibility that long-term exposure to adversity may affect the fiction of the dopamine system is interesting, particularly and it might relate to issues of mental illness. Such research is usefully broadening our understanding of the long-term effects and impacts of the stress/adversity response system. The researchers do a good job of pointing out the limitations of their study and indicating what they think is needed in the way of additional research into this question. Oh, and did you have any thoughts (ethical thoughts) about their suggestions that longitudinal research is needed in this area? It worth some thought.
Questions for Discussion:
- How are stress and adversity related to long-term mental and physical health?
- What physiological systems, alterations and effects may contribute to the findings you may have considered in responding to the previous question?
- If the findings of this line of research hold up under replication and extension what might be some of the things we could/should do to address their implications in the population of those who are experiencing or experienced adversity?
References (Read Further):
Bloomfield, M. A., McCutcheon, R. A., Kempton, M., Freeman, T. P., & Howes, O. (2019). The effects of psychosocial stress on dopaminergic function and the acute stress response. eLife, 8, e46797. https://elifesciences.org/articles/46797.pdf
Freeman, D. (2007). Suspicious minds: the psychology of persecutory delusions. Clinical psychology review, 27(4), 425-457. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/28e9/7fd5e8c72aa89c552a75b670c27f0664f427.pdf
Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C. H., Perry, B. D., … & Giles, W. H. (2006). The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience, 256(3), 174-186. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3232061/?TB_iframe=true&width=921.6&height=921.6
Chapman, D. P., Whitfield, C. L., Felitti, V. J., Dube, S. R., Edwards, V. J., & Anda, R. F. (2004). Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of depressive disorders in adulthood. Journal of affective disorders, 82(2), 217-225. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c8f5/4111f295a998ad4d39f6ad709785bbbca33a.pdf
Felitti, V. J., Anda, R. F., Nordenberg, D., Williamson, D. F., Spitz, A. M., Edwards, V., … & Marks, J. S. (2019). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American journal of preventive medicine, 56(6), 774-786. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/192056