A group of Canadian scientists recently discovered a way in which abusing a child can cause permanent — or near permanent — changes in the child’s biochemistry. In turn, those changes in the child’s biochemistry can lead to a lifetime of anxiety, depression, and other maladies.
Ed Yong, over at Not Exactly Rocket Science, wrote about the discovery in a post he published yesterday. Ed, by the way, is my favorite science writer and a person who, despite his grievous flaw of being better looking than me, typically creates clear, accessible articles that are highly accurate and engaging.
If I understand Ed’s article correctly, then the scientists basically discovered abusing a child can alter the functioning of a certain gene in her body that normally works to limit the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. As a consequence, she gains too much cortisol in her body which causes her body to behave “as if it were stressed, even when nothing stressful is happening. The result is a higher risk of anxiety, depression and suicide.”
It seems to me the discovery might lead to more effective ways of alleviating the long term problems caused by child abuse.