The link between traumatic stress during childhood and the changes in the brain in adulthood

Researchers from the University of Alberta have revealed that traumatic or stressful events in childhood may lead to tiny changes in fundamental brain structures that can now be identified decades later.

A recent study showed that trauma or abuse throughout a child’s early years– a well-known risk aspect for developing mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder in the adult years– causes changes in specific subregions of the hippocampus and the amygdala.

When these changes occur, scientists think the affected regions of the brain might not function as well, possibly increasing the risk of developing psychological health conditions as adults during stressful times.

Peter Silverstone, interim chair of the Division of Psychiatry, stated:  “Now that we can determine which specific sub-regions of the amygdala or the hippocampus are permanently modified by incidents of childhood abuse, trauma or mistreatment, we can start to concentrate on how to mitigate or even potentially reverse these changes.”


Aghamohammadi-Sereshki, A., Coupland, N. J., Silverstone, P. H., Huang, Y., Hegadoren, K. M., Carter, R., … & Malykhin, N. V. (2021). Effects of childhood adversity on the volumes of the amygdala subnuclei and hippocampal subfields in individuals with major depressive disorder. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience: JPN, 46(1), E186-E195.

Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash


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Federico Ferrarese Federico Ferrarese - Chartered Psychologist and Cognitive Behavioural Therapist
I am deeply committed to my role as a cognitive behavioural therapist, aiding clients in their journey towards recovery and sustainable, positive changes in their lives. This involves strategising to maintain long-term mental well-being and identifying and mitigating the risks of relapse or the return of issues. My approach is empathetic, warm, inquisitive, and collaborative, creating a secure and comfortable environment for clients to delve into their difficulties. I am proficient in delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) online and hold accreditation from the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). I provide CBT sessions in both English and Italian. With several years of experience in the NHS and my private practice, I am a qualified CBT Therapist treating individuals with moderate to severe depression and anxiety disorders. My expertise includes the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Phobia, Health Anxiety, Panic Disorder, Low Self-Esteem, and Stress Management. I am currently pursuing an MSc programme in Applied Neuroscience at King's College London. Prior to obtaining my postgraduate diploma in cognitive behavioural therapy from Queen Margaret University, I earned a three-year degree in neurocognitive rehabilitation and a five-year degree in psychology from the University of Padua. I am a Chartered Psychologist and a British Psychological Society (BPS) member.