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Study: Internalized feelings from traumatic events can alter brain structure in kids

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
LISTEN: Internalized trauma leads to depression in young kids

PHOENIX — For children who experience traumatic events at a young age, internalizing symptoms or feelings such as depression and anxiety can lead to an altered brain structure, according to a new study.

The study helps people understand how situations, especially traumatic situations, are affecting children, not only in that moment, but also long term.

Christina Jimenez, with the youth counseling service Doorways, said the study has helped clarify what events or situations effect children the most and how they are effected.

“I think that our society thinks kids in general are not as affected by things, as we now know that they are,” she said.

Jimenez said without treatment or counseling, these young children can grow up as teenagers and adults and suffer from depression or anxiety related to early childhood events.

Children tend to believe they are the cause of any type of trouble in their environment, such as parents who fight or the loss of a parent, and do not have the ability to understand it is not their fault, Jimenez said.

In order to help children deal with these emotions, Jimenez said parents should check in with their children and ask them regularly how they are feeling.

Although young children and teenagers tend to balance their emotions between being irritable and pleasant, Jimenez said parents should intervene when they see extreme symptoms.

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