Stress & Depression Early in Life Stunts Our Reward Circuits


By Elsevier | * Science Daily

Depression - child

Early life stress is a major risk factor for later episodes of depression. In fact, adults who are abused or neglected as children are almost twice as likely to experience depression.

Scientific research into this link has revealed that the increased risk following such childhood adversity is associated with sensitization of the brain circuits involved with processing threat and driving the stress response. More recently, research has begun to demonstrate that in parallel to this stress sensitization, there may also be diminished processing of reward in the brain and associated reductions in a person's ability to experience positive emotions.

Researchers at Duke University and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio looked specifically at this second phenomenon in a longitudinal neuroimaging study of adolescents, in order to better understand how early life stress contributes to depression.

They recruited 106 adolescents, between the ages of 11-15, who underwent an initial magnetic resonance imaging scan, along with measurements of mood and neglect. The study participants then had a second brain scan two years later.

The researchers focused on the ventral striatum, a deep brain region that is important for processing rewarding experiences as well as generating positive emotions, both of which are deficient in depression.

“Our analyses revealed that over a two-year window during early to mid-adolescence, there was an abnormal decrease in the response of the ventral striatum to reward only in adolescents who had been exposed to emotional neglect, a relatively common form of childhood adversity where parents are persistently emotionally unresponsive and unavailable to their children,” explained first author Dr. Jamie Hanson.

[Read more here]

* Originally entitled: “Early life stress and adolescent depression linked to impaired development of reward circuits”

Story Source: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference: Jamie L. Hanson, Ahmad R. Hariri, Douglas E. Williamson. Blunted Ventral Striatum Development in Adolescence Reflects Emotional Neglect and Predicts Depressive Symptoms. Biological Psychiatry, 2015; 78 (9): 598 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.010
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Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, He can also be reached at

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  1.' Anna Brambrinck Olver says:

    Got this one nailed down

  2.' Melanson Mem says:

    no child should go through these things and dead beats should be nailed

  3.' Josephine October says:

    Early childhood abuse can severely damage a child’s brain.

  4.' Brent Farris says:

    What if the parents are just too busy working a job to put a roof over their head and food on the table and they’re just emotionally unavailable

    •' Lorei Sanford says:

      I don’t think it’s the same as being bounced off walls and raped…

    •' Brent Farris says:

      neglect / abuse comes in many varrying degrees. Use your common sense. And keep the facts in context.

    •' Lorei Sanford says:

      OK Brent… answered your own question…..and don’t really want any input. I am one of those fucked up kids with spinal injuries and PTSD from abuse….I have no common sense. Piss áoff!

  5.' Judy Howard Walter says:

    Well…..I had a great childhood….and perfect parents….I still had depression…I can remember as young as around seven….sitting in the coal bin of our basement….and thinking dark thoughts….I have learned to grab a great book (fiction) usually….and read. read…. read… has always worked for me….now I rarely suffer from this any longer and it does not last as long….

    •' Robin S. Knox says:

      Doesn’t mean those with depression had adverse childhood, only that those with adverse childhood more likely to be depressed

  6.' Takada Cheri says:

    This is so SAD but so very True 🙁

  7.' Ruth Lyman says:

    This is something few people know or are unwilling to acknowledge. The pain is unspeakable and it robs you of self confidence. You for get who you were ment to be.

  8.' Bones Jones says:

    I know that all too well,I had some very fucked-up expereinces with my family on my old man’s side of family when I was growing up too!…’s still going now the relatives.

  9.' Oliver Johnen says:

    that is depressing

  10.' Tracy Brandt says:

    page not found

  11.' Lorei Sanford says:

    PTSD! Is real and It’s not just for soldiers.

  12.' Sali Capo says:

    There are also a few culture aspects where these “things” are simply not spoken about… No need to get into those details here. But please remember this: you’re never alone, messages like are testimony. Hugs to all, seriously ALL!

  13.' Lerato Yvonne Faba says:

    CHECK THIS OUT… Enoch Horra

  14.' Daunte Dale says:

    Brittany Glenzer

  15.' Ally Gonzalez says:

    Cassandra Siebrigje

  16.' Helena Alosi says:

    depression is a major issue in our world, and depression is exactly what it’s name is DE-pression the opposite of “expression”. People who are suffering with depression are suffering with issues from the past and or their present. All the traumatic/unsettling experiences and bad times they have been dealt have not been Dealt with in the right way. Most people tend to deprive themselves of expression which results in a build up of negative energy. this negative energy can cause a wide range of physical emotional and mental problems for people such as – depression, anxiety, back pain, anger, fear ect. humans need to understand the power of positive thinking. ,thoughts That we manifest become the feelings that we feel ,thoughts produce a chemical reaction in the brain, these tiny particles spinning are energy in motion (E-motion)
    Different types of thoughts all produce different levels of chemical reactions in the brain and there for we experience so many different feelings. The solution to happiness is simple, you must manifest your own happiness , for the way you live is how u will feel, practice of positive thinking and momentary awareness and making yourself familiar with ancient esoteric concepts and information is the way, but first u must remove urself from the past for it has already been, and do not wonder to far in the future for it has not come, this moment is precious and what you decide to make it !! To learn you also must unlearn!

  17.' Bella Ishaiah says:

    Balsamona Odicho !

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