While this may not come as a shock to most, adult depression has been linked directly to childhood neglect in a recent study conducted by researchers at Duke University and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio.
Although it may seem to be a simple cause and effect scenario, the physical relationship between childhood stress and adult depression has remained a complicated phenomena and which is physiologically difficult to follow.
Previous research had indicated that early childhood neglect can be traced to sensitivity in the biochemistry which is responsible for threat processing and responding to stress.
This new study suggests that, parallel to these reactions, there may also be a dampening of the ability to experience reward reactions, which can lead to a difficulty in processing positive emotions.
According to a report published in Biological Psychiatry, researchers assessed and scanned 106 adolescents between the ages of 11 and 15 at a two-year interval.
They found that those who had suffered from neglect showed blunted development in the ventral sacrum, a region of the brain associated with reward processing. It further showed that this blunted development was linked to an increase in depressive symptomatology.
This research is an important step toward predicting and treating depression in adolescents and adults before it becomes potentially debilitating.
According to the report, “Debate is ongoing regarding these various ideas, but our data and research from other groups supports the importance of better understanding the development of reward circuitry in the development of depression.”