Originally posted on Health & Family:
Childhood trauma has long been known to raise a child’s odds of developing depression and addiction later on. Now, a small but intriguing new study links these risks to specific changes in the brain, finding that disruptions in certain neural networks are associated with increased chances of substance use disorders, depression or both in teens.
Researchers at the University of Texas studied 32 teens, 19 of whom had been maltreated in childhood but did not have a current psychiatric disorder. The researchers defined child trauma or maltreatment as any type of significant abuse or neglect lasting six months or longer, or a major traumatic experience like life-threatening illness, witnessing domestic violence or losing a parent before age 10. The other 13 participants in the study served as the control group, having no history of major child trauma or psychiatric problems.
All of the teens were followed up every six months for an average of three and a half years. During that time, the authors found that five of the maltreated children and one control had developed major depression and four of the maltreated children and one control had developed substance use disorders. (Two of the maltreated children had both a drug problem and depression.) This meant that nearly half the maltreated children had a either a diagnosable drug problem or depression or both, three times the rate seen in controls.