Yes, Emotional Trauma Can Affect the Brain

Traumatic experiences don’t just change our perspective on life. Science tells us that emotional trauma also affects the physical wiring of the brain.

Evolution has taught certain parts of the brain to respond and adapt to trauma, resulting in consistent changes in regions of the brain associated with memory and the regulation of fear, according to research. Chronic stress, aging, prior experience, and even our genes can affect parts of the brain, which could explain why some people are more susceptible to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and why children who are exposed to trauma may exhibit different symptoms than adults, the study notes.

That’s why it’s so important to learn to manage stress, work to heal from trauma, and take care of our brains, says Rene Hen, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at Columbia University in New York City.

Here’s what we know about emotional trauma and what it does to the brain.

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