Childhood Stress Linked to Adult Depression

Summary: A new study reveals a connection between negative life events (NLE) in childhood and a higher likelihood of developing depression in young adulthood.

This research, involving 321 participants, showed that a thicker orbitofrontal cortex at age 14, followed by rapid thinning during adolescence, is predictive of depressive symptoms later in life.

While NLE was not directly related to orbitofrontal cortex thickness, the study underscores the importance of early NLE assessment and monitoring orbitofrontal cortex changes for identifying depression risks.

Key Facts:

  1. Childhood NLE Impact: Experiencing negative life events during childhood significantly increases the risk of depression in young adulthood.
  2. Orbitofrontal Cortex Changes: Changes in the orbitofrontal cortex, specifically accelerated thinning during adolescence, are linked to later depressive symptoms.
  3. Early Assessment Value: Early identification and monitoring of these factors could be crucial in preventing psychological disorders in young adults.

Source: Wiley

New research published in JCCP Advances indicates that experiencing negative life events (NLE) during childhood is linked with a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression during young adulthood.

Thinning of the orbitofrontal cortex, a region in the brain that affects emotion, during adolescence was also associated with increased depressive symptoms later in life.

This shows a sad child.
The researchers did not identify a relationship between NLE and orbitofrontal cortex thickness. Credit: Neuroscience News

The study involved brain imaging tests conducted in 321 participants across four time points from ages 14 to 22 years. Investigators also used a questionnaire at the first time point to measure NLE, and they tested for depressive symptoms at the fourth time point.

A higher burden of NLE, a thicker orbitofrontal cortex at the age of 14 years, and an accelerated orbitofrontal cortex thinning across adolescence predicted young adults’ depressive symptoms. The researchers did not identify a relationship between NLE and orbitofrontal cortex thickness.

“Our results suggest that NLE assessment in childhood and adolescence in addition to acute NLE may be warranted in clinical psychology and psychotherapy to identify individuals at risk for depression,” the authors wrote.

“Additionally, accelerated thinning of prefrontal cortical areas may be an additional risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms, which should receive further attention in efforts to prevent psychological disorders in young adults.”

About this psychology and neurodevelopment research news

Author: Sara Henning-Stout
Source: Wiley
Contact: Sara Henning-Stout – Wiley
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: The findings will appear in JCPP Advances

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