Tag Archives: Serotonin

Borderline Personality Disorder – The Role of Childhood Trauma and Other Factors


Several of my articles have already examined, in some detail, environmental factors in childhood which put the individual at risk of developing borderline personality disorder (BPD) as an adult (however, for those of you who are not familiar with them, I will summarize them at the end of this article).

Before I do that, however, I wish to look at other factors which research suggests may be linked to the development, in adulthood, of BPD. These are :


– Neurobiology

– Genetics

NEUROTRANSMITTERS : Neurotransmitters are chemicals which exist in the brain and have the function of sending messages between neurons (brain cells). In individuals with BPD, research has shown that three groups of neurotransmitters, in particular, have often been disrupted; these are :

a) SEROTONIN : this neurotransmitter is linked to destructive urges, aggressive behaviour and depression

b) DOPAMINE : this neurotransmitter is linked to emotional lability (instability)

c) NORADRENALINE : as above

NB It should be noted that these neurotransmitters may well have been adversely affected as a result of childhood trauma (click here for an explanation as to how this may occur)

images      images2

Above : 2 diagramatic representations of neurotransmitters.


NEUROBIOLOGY : Brain scan technology has revealed that those who suffer from BPD frequently have brain abnormalities relating to both the brain’s structure and its functioning. Three parts of the brain, in particular, are frequently found to have been damaged ; these are :

a) THE HIPPOCAMPUS : this brain region is involved in regulating our behaviour (self-control)

b) ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX : this brain region is involved in decision making skills and planning

c) AMYGDALA : this brain region is involved in regulating (controlling) our behaviour, especially anger, aggression, violent impulses, fear and anxiety

The idea has been put forward that the damage to these brain regions, and the consequent emotional and behavioural problems, go quite some considerable way to explaining why it is that those who suffer from BPD so frequently have very significant difficulties in forming stable relationships.

NB. Again, it seems these brain regions have been damaged in BPD sufferers when their brains were still developing and, therefore,highly vulnerable during childhood as a result of their traumatic experiences. The good news is, however, that such damage seems to be, at least in part, reversible (click here to read my article on this)


There is no evidence that there is a specific gene relating to the development of BPD. However, it has been suggested that certain personality traits (characteristics) might have been inherited from parents which put the individual at greater risk of developing BPD ; these include a propensity towards aggression and emotional instability. Presently, however, this is merely a hypothesis.




– dysfunctional relationships with parent/s

– growing up in a household in which a member has significant problems relating to drugs and/or alcohol

– growing up in a household in which a member suffers from a serious psychiatric illness

– abuse (physical/emotional/sexual)

– neglect by parent/s

– growing up in an environment which involves living in a frequently occurring or chronic state of fear/anxiety/distress

For more on this, click here.


N.B.  The risk of development of BPD as an adult is significantly increased if psychological issues relating to the above have not been addressed/resolved through therapy and, especially, if others (particularly the perpetrators) try to undermine, invalidate and/or discredit one’s perception of the impact one’s overwhelmingly stressful childhood experiences have had on one.


51Qg4LQa-aL._UY250_emotional abusebrain damage caused by childhood trauma

The above eBooks are now available for immediate download on Amazon. Click here for further details.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Childhood Trauma: Aiding Recovery through Diet and Lifestyle.

childhood trauma recovery

Neurotransmitters :

Several of my posts have discussed research that shows childhood trauma can profoundly influence the biochemistry of the brain and that these biochemical changes can, and do, lead to problems with the individual’s psychological state and behavior.

Fortunately, however, research has also demonstrated that these adverse biochemical changes and their negative effects may be, at least in part, reversed by the individual adopting an appropriate diet and lifestyle.

The brain is able to naturally produce its own mood-benefitting neurochemicals (technically known as ENDOGENOUS neurochemicals).

Exercise :

One way to do this (which many of us are already familiar with) is through EXERCISE – research suggests that regular and mild exercise causes the brain to produce ENDORPHINS which work in a similar manner to prescribed anti-depressants (eg Prozac, Setraline etc).

Massage :

BODY MASSAGE, too, has been shown to be helpful; indeed, a study by Field (2001) revealed that it can REDUCE STRESS HORMONES in the body.

Mindfulness :

Furthermore, a study by Jevning et al (1978) demonstrated that MEDITATION can be of great benefit. Indeed, more and more therapies are integrating meditative techniques (eg the therapy known as MINDFULNESS) to help alleviate patients alleviate their anxiety. It has been shown that meditation works by reducing the levels of the stress hormone CORTISOL in the body (which is of particular importance as high levels of cortisol can physically harm the body).

Omega-3 :

The brain is a physical organ so it should come as no surprise to us that what we eat affects its NEUROCHEMICAL BALANCE. Research shows that FATTY ACIDS are VITAL TO EMOTIONAL WELLBEING. In particular, LOW LEVELS OF OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID have been shown to be linked to DEPRESSION, ANXIETY and ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOUR.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACID can be purchased as a supplement in most pharmacists. It has been used to treat ADHD in children; also, a study by Gesch et al (2002) showed that giving young offenders OMEGA-3 supplements reduced their offending rate by 37%.

Serotonin :

Another neurochemical which ENHANCES MOOD and helps to COMBAT ANXIETY and DEPRESSION is SEROTONIN. Many prescribed medications work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain, but SEROTONIN LEVELS CAN ALSO BE RAISED THROUGH DIET; research suggests that a diet RICH IN PROTEIN can help to achieve this and that research remains ongoing.

NOTE: One GP, who became so ill with bipolar depression that she had to be sectioned in a psychiatric ward and featured in an award winning documentary on mental illness, recovered sufficiently to return to her profession as a doctor. She has remained symptom free for 15 years (most people with bipolar disorder frequently relapse) and ATTRIBUTED THIS TO TREATING HERSELF BY CHANGING HER DIET. THE MAIN FEATURE OF THE DIET WAS THAT SHE TOOK 3 GRAMMES of COD LIVER OIL (a source of fatty acids) per day. Because this evidence, if it can be deemed as such, comes from just one individual it is obviously very far removed from providing a proper scientific sample or study. Nevertheless, I felt it to be of sufficient interest to make reference to it here. For those who are interested, the documentary is entitled ‘The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive‘ and, in my view, makes compelling viewing.


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery