Daily Archives: September 26, 2017

Child Abuse Can Impair Brain Wiring

Adults who were abused as children have abnormalities in their brains. Specifically an impaired structure and functioning of cells in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a part of the brain which plays an important role in the regulation of emotions and mood. The researchers believe that these changes may contribute to the emergence of depressive disorders and suicidal behaviour.

One of the abnormalities is less myelination of axons. Myelination occurs in childhood and allows the nerve impulse to be conducted over axons between neurons. This decreased myelination may alter functional coupling between the cingulate cortex and subcortical structures such as the amygdala and nucleus accumbens (areas of the brain linked respectively to emotional regulation and to reward and satisfaction) and contribute to altered emotional processing in people who have been abused during childhood.

What can be done about this? Is there a way to compensate for the fact that axons in abused people have less myelin?

I don’t know, but I hope so.

http://neurosciencenews.com/neural-connection-child-abuse-7572/

Summary: McGill researchers report those who suffer from traumatic experiences during childhood, like severe abuse, show significant abnormalities in the structure and cell function in the anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain associated with emotion and mood regulation. Researchers believe these changes may contribute to depressive disorders and suicidal ideations, often considered a long term effect of trauma suffered during early life.

Source: McGill University.

For the first time, researchers have been able to see changes in the neural structures in specific areas of the brains of people who suffered severe abuse as children.

Difficulties associated with severe childhood abuse include increased risks of psychiatric disorders such as depression, as well as high levels of impulsivity, aggressivity, anxiety, more frequent substance abuse, and suicide. Severe, non-random physical and/or sexual child abuse affects between 5-15 % of all children under the age of 15 in the Western world.

Researchers from the McGill Group for Suicide Studies, based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry, published research in the American Journal of Psychiatry that suggests that the long-lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences, like severe abuse, may be due to an impaired structure and functioning of cells in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a part of the brain which plays an important role in the regulation of emotions and mood. The researchers believe that these changes may contribute to the emergence of depressive disorders and suicidal behaviour.

Crucial insulation for nerve fibres builds up during first two decades of life

For the optimal function and organization of the brain, electrical signals used by neurons may need to travel over long distances to communicate with cells in other regions. The longer axons of this kind are generally covered by a fatty coating called myelin. Myelin sheaths protect the axons and help them to conduct electrical signals more efficiently. Myelin builds up progressively (in a process known as myelination) mainly during childhood, and then continue to mature until early adulthood.

Earlier studies had shown significant abnormalities in the white matter in the brains of people who had experienced child abuse. (White matter is mostly made up of billions of myelinated nerve fibres stacked together.) But, because these observations were made by looking at the brains of living people using MRI, it was impossible to gain a clear picture of the white matter cells and molecules that were affected.

To gain a clearer picture of the microscopic changes which occur in the brains of adults who have experienced child abuse, and thanks to the availability of brain samples from the Douglas-Bell Canada Brain Bank (where, as well as the brain matter itself there is a lot of information about the lives of their donors) the researchers were able to compare post-mortem brain samples from three different groups of adults: people who had committed suicide who suffered from depression and had a history of severe childhood abuse (27 individuals); people with depression who had committed suicide but who had no history of being abused as children (25 individuals); and brain tissue from a third group of people who had neither psychiatric illnesses nor a history of child abuse (26 people).

Severe, non-random physical and/or sexual child abuse affects between 5-15 % of all children under the age of 15 in the Western world. NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the McGill news release.

Impaired neural connectivity may affect the regulation of emotions

The researchers discovered that the thickness of the myelin coating of a significant proportion of the nerve fibres was reduced ONLY in the brains of those who had suffered from child abuse. They also found underlying molecular alterations that selectively affect the cells that are responsible for myelin generation and maintenance. Finally, they found increases in the diameters of some of the largest axons among only this group and they speculate that together, these changes may alter functional coupling between the cingulate cortex and subcortical structures such as the amygdala and nucleus accumbens (areas of the brain linked respectively to emotional regulation and to reward and satisfaction) and contribute to altered emotional processing in people who have been abused during childhood.

The researchers conclude that adversity in early life may lastingly disrupt a range of neural functions in the anterior cingulate cortex. And while they don’t yet know where in the brain and when during development, and how, at a molecular level these effects are sufficient to have an impact on the regulation of emotions and attachment, they are now planning to explore this in further research.


‘Splain It To Me, Lucy

For three days, I was minimally functional. Time in the petri dish just drains me. In spite of the lethary and borderline shutdown, I took my kid to a couple of yard sales Saturday morning (one was my sister’s so I kinda felt obligated to appear) and we found some cute dresses in good shape at good prices. (Spook is back on her Elsa/Frozen kick, yay. NOT.) Sunday I took her to the park and there were no kids there so she asked me to play with her…then recoiled in horror when I actually started going down slides and swinging. The minute other kids showed up, she was done with the very “family time” she had demanded and at that point we left. But hey, I kept my word and took her. After the week she had at school and her Dojo scores, she was lucky to have gone at all. Especially after Friday’s tantrum during which she tried to hurl a basket of laundry at me then attack me with a big glass piggy bank.All over, of course, being told “no”. Kid scares me sometimes but I’m not backing down these days. (How is it not creepy when a hostile 8 year old asks if you can kill someone with a butter knife?)

With the petri dish hangover came the PMS and cramps and backache and general moodiness. I find myself unfocused, restless, weepy at times, hostile at other times. I hate people. Wait, I’m bored, I should go do something in the dish. No, that car nearly backed into me, I need be at home where I am safe! Jebus, the mood swings drive me crazier, I can only imagine how hard I am to live with for others not indoctrinated into the bipolar ‘lifestyle’. That is a fucked up way to put up, as if being bipolar is a lifestyle choice.

Today I had to go to the school’s mobile dentist thing with my kid. She did well, though she still has one cavity and this dentist (he was a nice jolly guy, she didn’t attack him) told me she’s gonna need laughing gas for anyone to work on it and it has to be soon or it will become abcessed. (Yay, medicaid-find-a-doctor-who-will-accept-it time, joyous.) I was proud of her for being so brave and calm, though.

Since returning to the shop, I find my anxiety has skyrocketed. With no discernable cause. The doctors and such always insist there’s some sort of trigger for anxiety attacks and heightened states of anxiety but in my case…so often there isn’t one. ‘SPLAIN IT TO ME, LUCY. Much like the shifts in the bipolar states, the anxiety just sneaks up on me like a ninja and I feel like I am fending off nine or ten of them armed with swords and nunchuks. The feeling of being unsettled is immense, the fear palpable. I have no explanation for it other than…being out in the petri dish. Even if alone in a building, I am still subject to ringing phones, cars driving by, sirens, people talking as they walk by, construction. I guess those are all triggers but they were here earlier just the same and the anxiety wasn’t rioting then. Maybe the longer I am exposed the worse it becomes?

Not that that will help my cause any. I am so sick of feeling wussified simply for having limitations. I hate being limited, hate feeling weak, hate feeling so out of control. Noise is a fact of life. For me, it overwhelms my senses and turns me into a cowering train wreck of a human. It’s so odd how a doctor will tell you to avoid foods that upset your stomach or are bad for your health yet when you have an anxiety disorder and all the stimuli is what aggravates the condition, you’re encouraged(forcefully at times) to push yourself until you’re desensitized. Yet I don’t get desensitized. I have periods of remission when the anxiety isn’t as crippling but it’s always there. Ninja anxiety. Lurking, waiting. I don’t even think about being anxious so it’s not some self fulfilling prophecy.

Things with R are getting…dicey. His political tirades, no matter how little I have to hear them since he is so busy with both jobs, have gotten to the point where I feel belittled for every opinion I have. He’s a bully, just like Trump. His way or you’re an idiot. I told him last week I had my kid’s dental appt, I have a doct appt Friday, then Friday afternoon Spook and I both have our annual eye doc appts. He claims not to remember me telling him (feasible enough but not less agitating as he never listened or remembered even when working one job). What truly set me off was when I told him about today’s dental thing and he said, “It better not take you too long.” WTF? I’m not on a payroll here. I got no benefits from him. Who the fuck does he think he is? I know, he’s tired and blah blah. He’s never cut me any slack for being a bitch during my period or whatever bipolar cycle caused whatever behavior, so why should I show him mercy?

Honestly…Maybe the monthly curse is making me angrier than I’d normally be, but even an hour in the man’s company and I end up feeling like I could drink the special Kool Aid. His political stances have become oppressive. There is no agree to disagree, no margin of individual belief. HE’S right, I am an ignorant left wing idiot. I have no afiliation, thank you. I don’t want to have one, either. I believe in right and wrong and perhaps that makes me a naive simpleton, but if you’re really my friend….you’ll accept that and let it go. And he doesn’t accept it and he won’t let it go. And I’m not the only one sick of hearing him carry on, I’m just apparently the only one it stresses out so much I’m ready to douse the bridge in gasoline and set it on fire. I’ve got enough anxiety raising an 8 year old, I don’t need the added strain of a 50 some odd year old friend acting like a child.

To my credit…Spook started riding the bus yesterday. And thanks to me raising hell with the school there were 7 other kids at the stop, kids whose parents were struggling with the transportation issue just like I was. And because I was willing to speak up, those 7 kids now have transportation to school and all the parents can breathe a tiny sigh knowing we won’t face truancy charges simply because our car broke down or we can’t afford gas. It’s a little thing, but I’m glad I spoke up and called the school on their bullshit. I’m all for keeping the peace to ward off panic attacks but sometimes…your voice needs to be heard for anything to change.

Now…I’m going to take a Xanax because all the garbage truck noise is making me jump out of my skin and my stomach start churning. I’ve been popping Pepcid the last week because my stomach’s always churning. I was diagnosed at 14 with a nervous stomach and the doctor told my mom to minimize me exposure to stress for my own health.

Weird how once I turned 18 it suddenly became “suck it up, life gives you stomach aches so what.”

I’m Trying So Hard

to stick to the no-Cokes rule but it’s so hard.  I’ve already lost seven pounds since Labor Day and don’t want to stop the progress I’ve got going.  I need to lose SO MUCH weight.

Anyway.  Busy day today–I have lunch out then get my hair done at 1 p.m.  SO not much down time today.  I’ll be busy this week and maybe can rest up next week.

I’m trying to make sure that I’m not slipping backwards instead of just sleepy because of the no caffeine.  I need to do better in the house and keeping up with everything.  I lose track of it so easily and let things pile up.