Stress, Childhood Trauma, and Diseases

Psychological stress is an essential factor in health and illnesses. Stress has been closely related to the onset and progression of various psychiatric and physical disorders such as anxiety, depression, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, heart diseases, pain, and cancers (Slavich, 2016).

Stress may have a critical role in premature aging and associated diseases. Studies about the associations between stress and health have been relying on self-report and interview-based methods (Slavich, 2016). Recent development in the online systems may provide new means for improving such studies about stress-disease connections in the lifespan.

Psychosocial stress during childhood may influence the development of the nervous and the immune systems, their long-term functioning, as well as the interactions between them (Danese and Lewis, 2017). Studies in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) may provide a comprehensive model for healing psychopathology associated with early-life stress and childhood trauma.

As a potential predictor, stress in the early life may lead to neurobiological changes and inflammation in later life. Correlations have been observed among childhood trauma, inflammation, and clinical patterns (Danese and Lewis, 2017).

Such associations may have implications for potential therapeutic approaches to prevent the occurrence of clinical symptoms based on the prediction from childhood trauma. For example, preventive and treatment methods may focus on the improvement of adaptive immunity and anti-inflammation (Danese and Lewis, 2017). The influence of childhood trauma can also be considered for improving treatment outcomes.


Danese A, J Lewis S. Psychoneuroimmunology of Early-Life Stress: The Hidden Wounds of Childhood Trauma? Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(1):99-114. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.198.

Slavich GM. Life Stress and Health: A Review of Conceptual Issues and Recent Findings. Teach Psychol. 2016 Oct;43(4):346-355.

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