Researchers have recently published findings that suggest an early onslaught of abuse may lead to a reduced reception to antidepressants later on in life.

The research that came to this conclusion was part of the International Study to Predict Optimized Treatment in Depression (iSPOT-D), and the lead author on the research was Leanne Williams, Ph.D. of Stanford University. The researchers analyzed more than 1,000 adults, who were given the Early Life Stress Questionnaire, and assessed for previous exposure to traumas or abusive behavior in their childhood. The patients were given one of three antidepressants (sertraline, venlafaxine, or escitalopram) to take for two months.

While it is known that childhood abuse will have long-standing effects, that continue to manifest themselves into adulthood, up until now, that research only focused on the effects from a mental health standpoint. This research however, touches on a physical response to administered medication. The researches on this product found that the individuals who experienced abuse as children, (physical, sexual, or emotional) responded to medication at a much slower rate, and had lower overall remission rates than those individuals who had either non-abuse related trauma, or no trauma at all.

The ill-response to the anti-depressant medication could be broken down even further; scientists found that the patients who experienced abuse earliest in life (ages 4 to 7) were the patients that had the poorest rate of recovery, while the other age ranges (8-12) and (13-17) showed no concrete associations between their abuses and responses to the medication they received. Furthermore, the patients that were assigned sertraline as their medication had the worst recovery rate.

There are several points that Dr. Williams expressed post the conclusion of the research. She wanted to note that the results of their research do not negate the long-term effects of abuse on children over the age of 7 years.  Instead, the research suggests that the 4-7 age range may be the most critical set of years in terms of development and future outcomes. She also noted alternative treatments need to be assessed for the “4 to 7” patients. Behavioral therapy and trauma-related stress alternatives are two viable alternative options that Dr. Williams suggested.

Dr. Williams also notes the importance of continued research and additional studies to determine how childhood trauma and abuses may physically alter brain circuits over the course of time.

For the full article that this post is based on, please click here: Psych News