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Biology of Trauma

The brain is an incredible organ, both in terms of its growth and the complexity of the connections it is capable of making. Research shows that child's first few years of life have a profound impact on the formation of the brain underlying Infrastructure. The stimulation and formation in the early years is the basis for all future health and education. 

The construction of the brain's neural networks is like building a home.

A house's stability and durability are both jeopardized if it is constructed on a shaky base.

Like a house, our minds require time and effort to design, construct, and furnish.

Both of our brains function similarly, with development beginning at birth and continuing until adulthood.

In the first few years of life, neurons in the brain make seven hundred to a thousand new connections per second, which is far more often than once per year, once per day, or once per hour.

Indeed, that's a vast web of interdependence.

But the mind can only maintain such a frenetic speed for so long.

Similar to how a tree's branches are thinned down after being pruned, the intercellular connections in a living organism undergo a process called pruning.

This is also what the brain does.

The brain's ability to become more efficient via pruning is mostly due to the elimination of unused connections.

Trillions of synapses link neurons throughout the brain to form its complex architecture.

These bridges provide very rapid information transfer between brain cells with specialized roles.

Synaptic plasticity, the process through which neurons communicate with one another, is at its peak during early childhood development.

The amazing thing is that we never stop making new connections, and the pruning process goes on forever as well.

The adage "use it or lose it" is especially pertinent here.

Brains may be retrained and new, beneficial neural pathways can be established at any age.

However, getting a head start on developing a healthy and pleasant neural network in childhood rather than in middle age is crucial for ensuring long-term health and happiness.

The brain's ability and capacity to change, or its "plasticity," is greatest in the first few years of life, when it is rapidly building circuits and connections.

Establishing a solid brain infrastructure for the rest of one's life is a lot simpler in one's formative years, when one has the most chance for either growth or susceptibility.

If we use the house example once again, the question becomes whether it is simpler, cheaper, and less of a headache to fix a home that was constructed on a weak foundation, or to ensure that the foundation was stable and strong from the start.

After a house has been built on a faulty foundation, it is difficult to perform necessary repairs.

I would want to add here that human beings have an indefinite potential for growth and development of novel neural pathways.

Accordingly, we should never believe that we are helpless and unchangeable.

The human mind and soul are remarkably resilient, capable of adjusting to new circumstances and emerging victorious.

That's the awesome thing about how our genes and life experiences mold our minds.

The serve and return connection between children and their parents or other caregivers in the family or community is one of the most significant factors in influencing the development of the brain. When a young kid reaches out for connection by babbling, reading, or gestures, and the response is tears, we call it a serve and return engagement.

The adult's rejoinder to the child's expression of affection, such as a hug or other physical manifestation of love.

A smart youngster would see that this kind of back-and-forth is a normal part of the brain's development.

When a baby screams or gives other indications, many parents react automatically. .

If your parent or caregiver does not reply to you or if their answer is improper, like an angry one, you start making all those funny sounds.

The brain's framework doesn't develop and grow normally.

Trauma and other toxic stresses may delay this developing process, leading to learning and behavioral issues later on for the kid.

There is always some thread of connection between our thoughts, feelings, and relationships.

The brain is a complex organ that works in tandem with the rest of the body, so it's especially crucial that we live in a safe and supportive social and emotional environment free from stress, trauma, and neglect if we want our brains to do their jobs properly and successfully.

Toxic stress, which affects a child's brain development when their surroundings are fraught with violence, neglect, and other traumatic events, may have long-lasting consequences for the youngster's mental health. The term "toxic stress" refers to the damage done to a child's brain and other developing organ systems by harsh, frequent, or protracted adversity. The body's hormonal balance may be thrown off, the immune system can be impaired, and the process of reading and transcribing DNA can be altered as a result of toxic stress.

Disparities in linguistic ability may result from these systemic changes.

Success in school, the business, and social settings may be impacted by factors such as focus, social skills, and physical health.

Toxic stress may be avoided or its negative consequences mitigated if children are exposed to nurturing connections with loving individuals from an early age.

Our bodies contain defense systems designed to protect us from the dangers of stress and the disruption of homeostasis that may result from traumatic events.

Keep the term "homeostasis" in mind.

Simply put, this indicates that our internal physiological systems are in a condition of homeostasis. The optimal state is homeostasis.

Unfavorable external factors might disturb the equilibrium and homeostasis of our bodies.

Our bodies' natural defense mechanisms—fight, flight, freeze, or submit—are triggered by stress.

Short-term stress isn't awful, and if you don't know what it is, we'll explain it in a minute.

It is useful for avoiding perilous circumstances.

But greater incidences of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and gastrointestinal diseases have been linked to long-term impacts of chronic stress from trauma.

For this unit, we'll focus on the underlying mechanics.

Chemicals and other physiological responses in the body to stressful situations.

Let's learn a little bit about the human body and how it works.

Responses of the Sympathetic Nervous System and the endocrine system are modified by stress and fear-inducing events. The brain, spinal cord, and sensory organs, together with all the nerves that extend from them to the rest of the body, make up the nervous system, which regulates and relays information throughout the whole organism. The central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, regulates all bodily functions.

The processing, memory, and regulating systems of the body are all provided by this system, making it the body's control center. The brain processes all of the sensory data it receives, both consciously and unconsciously, in order to keep itself aware of its internal and external situations and to make judgments about what to do in order to preserve homeostasis and assure life.

The higher functions of the nervous system, including language, creativity, expression, emotions, and personality, are all managed by the central nervous system.

All of the nerves and nerve endings outside of the brain and spinal cord are grouped together into what is called the peripheral nervous system.

All the sensory receptors and nerves in your head and spine fall under this category.

The function of the sematic nervous system, a subset of the peripheral nervous system, is to stimulate skeletal muscles.

When I make an effort to move my arm, I do.

This is the autonomic nervous system serving me.

Because it regulates involuntary or unconscious muscle control like that of the heart and glands, the autonomic nervous system, a subset of the peripheral nervous system, is also known as the automatic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches. The sympathetic nervous system is in charge of the body's "fight, flight, freeze, or submit" reaction to threats, gains in energy, and feelings of shame or exhilaration. reduces digestive activity and releases stress hormones to help you deal with tense conditions.

The Rastin digest response is generated by the parasympathetic system while the body is at rest, digesting food, or otherwise in a state of relative ease, and it functions to counteract the activities of the sympathetic system.

The parasympathetic system's job after experiencing stress is, among other things, to slow down the body's breathing and heart rate. improved absorption of nutrients and allowed for the discharge of wastes.

The Magdala hypothermic pituitary adrenal axis is activated in response to stimuli that generate fear or stress.

When we're under duress, our bodies deploy their defenses.

To ensure our survival, our bodies' defensive response system sends a barrage of strong chemicals throughout the body.

We become hypervigilant, our eyes dilate, our hearing and our sense of smell sharpen, and our brains filter and screen out all but the most essential information in order to live when our fight, flight, freeze, or submit mechanism is activated.

The released molecules increase our bodies' availability of life-sustaining oxygen and glucose.

Pain is lessened due to the production of endorphins.

When we perceive danger, our bodies undergo a cascade of physiological and neurological changes known as hyper arousal, and our subconscious brains and bodies make a split-second decision to either fight, flee, freeze, or surrender.

Hyper arousal causes a variety of responses in its victims.

Some people get overexcited to the point of hysteria, while others may just seem astonished and retreat.

Most people's reactions to stress lay somewhere in the middle, between all-out resistance and complete capitulation.

The body, and the brain in particular, have a number of processes that help us cope with stressful experiences. Let's go a bit further into our architecture and physiology and break down our reaction mechanisms into organ systems.


Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES:

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