In adult patients with various neuropsychiatric disorders, childhood abuse including sexual and/or physical abuse and neglect, is one of the most serious causes.
- Adverse experiences occurring during critical periods of development, such as perinatal life, harmfully influence behavior, and physiological functions, including growth, metabolism, reproduction, and immune responses.
- Stressful environments in early life may induce permanent rather than transient consequences in animals.
- Previous studies have indicated that early unfavorable events augment the risk of behavioral disorders in adulthood, including neuropsychiatric disorders, such as depression and psychosis.In rodent and primate models, adverse environments during the neonatal periods seem to play a critical role in developing the brain systems important to regulate behavior and stress responsiveness. In particular, the responsiveness of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis can be deteriorated by interrupting usual mother-pup interactions, which may induce persistent changes in the neurobiology, physiology, and emotional behavior in adult animals.