Your kids stressed? Look for warnings

Bengaluru: Parents of small children should ensure that the environment at home is not stressful and watch out for any early life stress symptoms, as it could take a toll as they grow up.

Dr Laxmi T. Rao, Additional Professor Department of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) highlights that the early life stress is known to influence affective and cognitive functions of children in later life.

"There is a high correlation of early life stress as a risk factor for anxiety disorder. There is a lot of correlation, but in India epidemiological studies have not been done. However, based on the animal model developed for this, we can deduce that childhood stress can lead to stress, depression or anxiety disorder," said Dr Laxmi who added that patients with major depressive disorders showed a positive correlation with emotional and physical abuse and inter-parental violence frequencies.

"The subtypes of early life stress that has affected adulthood life mainly are major – sexual abuse (36.25%) and emotional neglect (8.75%). Early life stress has caused an abnormal increase in neuronal activity in hypothalamus and amygdala during fear extinction, which is thought to be involved in the failure of the medial prefrontal cortex to regulate the amygdala," she elaborated.

Children coming from stressful households tend to show impulsiveness and the anxiety, which affects their decision making capability. "These children are impulsive in making decisions. They cannot differentiate between safe or unsafe and hence their behaviour changes. Parents should be extremely cautious about parental violence, which majorly affects the child," she added. 

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