Psycho-Babble Medication | about biological treatments | Framed
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The role of early childhood experience in later de

Posted by Twinleaf on August 13, 2014, at 9:29:07

When I first developed depression about 20 years ago, the immediate causes seemed clear. I had lost both parents and a brother I was very close to within just a few months. The initial therapy efforts focused on grieving these losses.

But, as time passed, and the depression became chronic, it was apparent that something further was amiss. In my last effort at therapy, we focused much more on the first several years of my life - and the fact that my mother had been hospitalized for post-partum depression for the first year of my life. She made an excellent recovery, and was a good mother in later years. However, the therapist and I came to realize that this early loss made me extremely vulnerable to later losses - a fact that had been covered up by a secure, happy marriage and the birth of a son who was an absolute delight to raise.

I learned how important our non-verbal right hemispheres are in building feelings of secure attachment - on a basic level, how many millions of neuronal branches and connections have to be made during the first years of life. . A lot of the therapy was non-verbal - like the therapy sessions described by Allen Schore and Beatrice Beebe. Truthfully, I don't know exactly what happened in the therapy - it was some kind of unconscious change in the direction of increased security and well-being (very much aided by rTMS and stress-lowering agents such as tianeptine and rhodiola rosea). I am bringing this up to emphasize how just grieving the losses of adulthood didn't help the depression much at all, but that (presumably) going back and partially changing the parts of my brain which dealt with the nature of my earliest experience seemed to make a huge difference in my emotional well-being.

I am bringing this up here because I have been wondering how many other people may have had stressful experiences in early life which may have contributed to later depression. From what I have read, even emotional misattunement may lead to major attachment insecurities and later depression.

I don't mean to imply that the biological aspects of depression are unimportant. Stressful early experiences lead to chronically altered HPA axes and elevated stress hormone levels which are the biological substrates of depression. And of curse there are genetic components for many people.

I am emphasizing this mainly because I only recently learned how important it has been for me, and it is an aspect of depression that one can really do something about. I thought a number of other people might feel it is also relevant for them. I apologize for posting on "Medications" but I have been noticing how very low the traffic is on "Psychology", and was afraid no-one might notice it there.




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