Psychological Effects of Trauma on a Developing Brain


PsychologicalEffects of Trauma on a Developing Brain


Psychologicaleffects of trauma on a developing brain

Traumaoccurs in such incidences as domestic violence exposure, abuse,severe natural disasters, and abandonment bullying and medicalprocedures among others. The young brain develops with time, and thechildren can easily suffer post-traumatic stress when they face suchincidences of trauma. According to Anda, Felitti, Bremner, Walker,Whitfield, Perry, &amp Giles, (2006), it affects their braindevelopment hence reducing its capacity to function well. Parents andguardians should look out for the warning signs of psychologicaltrauma in the young people. Some of them include poor sleeping andeating habits, hyper-alertness, agitation and extreme arousal. Someof the young ones try not to maintain any eye contact while otherssuffer terrified responses when they see or hear some experiences.The psychological trauma can be acute or chronic. Caregivers andparents should protect their children and be close to them so thatthey can share such experiences. Sharing helps them to recover fromthe trauma so that it does not affect their brain development. Thepsychological trauma leads to the impairment of the neuroendocrinesystems it affects the neurons, which network to regulate brainfunctions. Therefore, if the brain neurons do not network well, thenthe child’s brain does not work well.

Accordingto Schore (2001) exposing the child to traumatic experiences has somepsychological effects. The child tends to get less or moreemotionally attached to someone or something. They might haveproblems forming any relationship, and show no empathy towardsothers. It connects to the brain development because it is the brainthat dictates how the children relate to others. With time, the brainsuffers more severe coordination issues, somatic symptoms, andcoordination problems because the brain develops poorly or retards inthis aspect of growth. Reduced brain development in the child affectstheir emotion regulation because the area of the brain that regulatesfeelings and communication is under-developed. Such a child finds ithard to identify or label feelings and communication becomes anotherproblem. Another aspect of brain development that stress affects isthat of general cognitive ability. Since the brain cells do notdevelop as required, the child cannot maintain focus, learncorrectly, process any new data that the brain gets or improve theirlanguage. The way a child feels also affects the growth of the brain.For instance, a child with low self-esteem, guilt and shame will havepsychological issues that affect how their brain develops.

Traumaaffects the child’s self-concept hence their self-concept. Reducedbrain development is one major reason for uncontrolled impulses,opposition, aggression and poor eating and sleeping habits as thebrain tries to re-enact from the trauma it faced. In such a case, thebrain of the child cannot develop like that of every other child. Theyoung mind needs freedom and comfort to grow, yet the traumainterrupts with it. The growth of an adolescent mind accelerates, andthe brain prunes the additional pathways, in a process that makes thebrain efficient and supports attention, reasoning, first thoughts andconcentration. Trauma can slow down these processes, and theadolescent brain will not grow as efficiently as should be the case.Not only does trauma affect brain development, but also thestrengthening of the brain parts that allow the brain to communicateto the rest of the body (Schore 2001). Therefore, psychologicaltrauma can be detrimental to the health and development of the brain.


Anda,R. F., Felitti, V. J., Bremner, J. D., Walker, J. D., Whitfield, C.H., Perry, B. D., … &amp Giles, W. H. (2006). The enduring effectsof abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood. Europeanarchives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience,256(3),174-186.

Schore,A. N. (2001). The effects of early relational trauma on right braindevelopment, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infantmental health journal,22(1-2),201-269.

Schore,A. N. (2001). Effects of a secure attachment relationship on rightbrain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health.Infantmental health journal,22(1-2),7-66.