As we have seen from other articles that I have previously published on this site, neurological problems resulting from childhood trauma can be reversed, and it is to the research into this exciting and fast developing area of study that I now turn.
Studies have shown that because SEROTONIN (a chemical, also known as a neurotransmitter, in the brain) can become depleted by childhood trauma, ANTI-DEPRESSANTS (e.g. Setraline) which increase the availability of serotonin in the brain can help to REVERSE the harmful effects of childhood trauma on it.
However, the beneficial effects of anti-depressant treatment is greatly increased if, in addition, the childhood trauma survivor’s ENVIRONMENT is also significantly improved, providing as many positive experiences as possible. Indeed, positive experiences can BENEFICIALLY AFFECT BRAIN CHEMISTRY (e.g. by increasing the availability of serotonin and other important neurotransmitters in the brain), just as anti-depressants can.
So: brain chemistry can be affected by environmental factors, as well as by medication.
Because survivors of childhood trauma often FEEL OVERWHELMED BY THEIR EMOTIONS, studies have been conducted which also show that activities that discharge these emotions in a creative or constructive manner can also change brain chemistry for the better. Examples include drawing, painting, writing or even undertaking exercises such as hitting a punch bag at the gym.
In addition to human studies, there have also been some studies on animals. There is now a growing body of evidence that new experiences can regenerate animals’ brain cells. Studies in this area are likely to be conducted on humans in the near future.
Because many of these studies are new, their implications have not yet been fully taken advantage of in the construction of treatment programs. Indeed, it is estimated that fewer than 10% of childhood trauma survivors are receiving appropriate therapeutic interventions.
The exciting conclusion that we are able to draw from all of the above is that there is now good evidence that even if the brain has undergone neurological damage as a result of childhood trauma, this CAN BE REVERSED due to the fact that THE BRAIN CONTINUES TO CHANGE THROUGHOUT LIFE.
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).