Bullies Can Shrink Kid’s Brains

Patients often ask whether their stress might be directly changing them physically;  I always answer yes, and describe how our emotional and spiritual state interlaces with our physical condition.  While they may be apparently distinct, both play an integral role in both good and bad health. Because of this, we at Sanctuary always pay careful attention to both as we care for their health needs.

In a recently concluded study, the IMAGEN study researchers took brain scans and followed the mental state of 682 children from a young age up into adulthood, using questionnaires to identify those who were chronically billies, then compared brain area changes between the bullied and non-bullied groups.  By age 19 years, the brains of those who were chronically bullied had notably smaller caudates and putamens. These particular 19-year olds also exhibited higher rates of anxiety. The bullying, therefore, despite its relatively non-permanent physical elements, caused significant anatomical and emotional damage.

This obviously underscoreswhat we already know: bullying is dangerous and needs to be worked against in schools and society.  However, the study also hints that other stressors may cause similar long term changes in children’s brains and mental health. Numerous other studies on “adverse childhood events” echo how such early life stressor can affect later heart, brain, cancer, and metabolic health.

Therefore, when we are caring for patients at Sanctuary and trying to lead them to a healthier more abundant life, we address the patient’s early life experiences as well as ongoing stressors in order to help mend the resultant problems.

Science Daily Summary

Springer.”How bullying affects the structure of the teen brain.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/12/181212135032.htm.

Original Research Article

Erin Burke Quinlan, Edward D. Barker, Qiang Luo, Tobias Banaschewski, Arun L. W. Bokde, Uli Bromberg, Christian Büchel, Sylvane Desrivières, Herta Flor, Vincent Frouin, Hugh Garavan, Bader Chaarani, Penny Gowland, Andreas Heinz, Rüdiger Brühl, Jean-Luc Martinot,Marie-Laure Paillère Martinot, Frauke Nees, Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos, Tomáš Paus, Luise Poustka, Sarah Hohmann, Michael N. Smolka, Juliane H. Fröhner, Henrik Walter, Robert Whelan, Gunter Schumann.Peer victimization andits impact on adolescent brain development and psychopathology.Molecular Psychiatry,2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41380-018-0297-9

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