The impact of early life trauma: Psychobiological sequelae in children: Juvenile stress as an animal model of childhood trauma

Gal Richter-Levin, Shlomit Jacobson-Pick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Danger, trauma, fear and anxiety are embedded in the human condition. There is a wide spectrum of appraisal, response and adaptation to danger within the lifecycle of the individual. A developmental psychopathology approach recognizes the intricate matrix of intrinsic factors, developmental maturation, experience and life events that contribute to proximal and distal outcomes. Traumatic experiences are common in the lives of children and adolescents. Approximately 15% to 20% of juveniles will encounter some form of relatively severe trauma [1]. Trauma exerts approximately twofold increased risk for various forms of psychopathology, including anxiety [2], major depression [3] and behavior problems [4]. These disorders span the full range of human existence from childhood to old age, although symptoms may vary considerably owing to developmental differences and related factors [5]. Reaction to stress. One of the key factors of trauma-related states is “stress.” Stress may be defined as a real or interpreted threat to the physiological or psychological integrity of an individual that results in physiological and/or behavioral responses [6]. The basic neuroendocrine core of acute stress response, also known as the fight-or-flight response, does not seem to vary substantially between species and/or gender. Humans, monkeys and rodents experience a cascade of hormonal responses to threat that appears to begin with the rapid release of oxytocin, vasopressin, corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and possibly other hormones produced in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus. Direct neural activation of the adrenal medulla triggers release of the catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine, and concomitant sympathetic responses.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease
Subtitle of host publicationThe Hidden Epidemic
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780511777042
ISBN (Print)9780521880268
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2010.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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