Author(s): Ehlert U, Ehlert U
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Abstract This mini-review refers to recent findings on psychobiological long-term consequences of childhood trauma and adverse living conditions. The continuum of trauma-provoked aftermath reaches from healthy adaptation with high resilience, to severe maladjustment with co-occurring psychiatric and physical pathologies in children, adolescents and adults. There is increasing evidence of a strong interconnectivity between genetic dispositions, epigenetic processes, stress-related hormonal systems and immune parameters in all forms of (mal)-adjustment to adverse living conditions. Unfavorable constellations of these dispositions and systems, such as low cortisol levels and elevated markers of inflammation in maltreated children, seem to promote the (co)-occurrence of psychiatric and physical pathologies such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obesity, or diabetes. Although findings from prospective study designs support a deepened understanding of causal relations between adverse living conditions, including traumatic experiences, during childhood and its psychobiological effects, so far, little is known about the temporal coincidence of stress-sensitive developmental stages during childhood and adolescence and trauma consequences. Taken together, childhood adversity is a severe risk factor for the onset of psychobiological (mal)-adjustment, which has to be explained under consideration of diverse physiological systems and developmental stages of childhood and adolescence. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology
and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior