Early Life Stress Can Cause Adult PTSD, Even Without Memories


Research from UCLA finds that rats exposed to early life trauma showed aberrations  of stress hormones, receptors in the amygdala, and inhibited or avoidant behavior, without indications of remembering the specific trauma (foot shock) they had experienced. The researchers conclude “traumatic experience during developmental periods of hippocampal immaturity can promote lifelong changes in symptoms and neuropathology associated with human PTSD even if there is no explicit memory of the early trauma.”

Abstract →

Poulos, A., Reger, M., Mehta, N., Zhuravka, I., et al; Amnesia For Early Life Stress Does Not Preclude The Adult Development Of PTSD Symptoms In Rats. Biological Psychiatry. Online October 11, 2013

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].