Washington: A new research has revealed that early exposure to trauma may have an upside later in life.
The study at the University of Zurich found that the traumatic and stressful events during childhood increase the risk to develop psychiatric disorders, but to a certain extent, they can also help better deal with difficult situations later in life.
People exposed to a traumatic experience early in life are more likely to be affected by illnesses such as borderline personality disorder or depression, but moderate stress in childhood may help a person develop strategies to better cope with stress in adulthood.
A research team led by Isabelle Mansuy has for the first time tested in mice the degree to which the beneficial effects of stress can be passed to following generations.
Mansuy explained that their results show that environmental factors change behaviour and that these changes can be passed on to the next generation.
This finding that not only a parent's susceptibility to psychological disorders can be passed on to its offspring, but also its improved goal-oriented behaviour in difficult situations might prove to be of value to the clinic.
Doctors could help post-trauma patients suffering from depression to build on these sorts of strength and the implication of the mineralocorticoid receptor gene could also be a good starting point for potential future medical therapies.
Mansuy added that they are not in any way suggesting that early-childhood trauma is somehow positive, but she adds that her study on mice demonstrates how extreme stress can affect the brain and behaviour across generations negatively, but also in some ways positively.