Research of people with histories of caregiver abuse and neglect consistently demonstrates problems with concentration, anger, panic, depression, food intake, drugs, and sleep, as well as decreased Heart RateVariability, higher levels of stress hormones, and reduced or impaired immune response.
Traumatic life experiences during childhood and adolescence are far more common than expected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that child maltreatment may be the most costly public health issue in the United States, Eradicating child abuse in America would reduce the overall rate of depression by more than half, alcoholism by two‐thirds, and suicide, serious drug abuse, and domestic violence by three quarters. It would also have a significantly positive effect on workplace performance, and vastly decrease the need for incarceration. The current practice of applying multiple distinct comorbid diagnoses to traumatized children prevents a comprehensive treatment approach. Approaching their problems from a framework of memories of discreet traumatic ignores the fact that the damage affects the brain’s neural circuitry and goes well beyond dealing with discrete painful events. Our great challenge is to learn to utilize the brain’s neuroplasticity to reorganize defective brain circuits.