This Childhood Pet Increases Risk of Serious Mental Illness (M)

A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii is thought to be responsible for the increase in risk of mental illness.

A parasite called Toxoplasma gondii is thought to be responsible for the increase in risk of mental illness.

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A Childhood Sign Of Good Mental Health

Children brought up like this tend to be happier as adults.

Children brought up like this tend to be happier as adults.

People who were out in nature more as children have better mental health as adults, research finds.

Playing in the backyard, hiking and just being in nature as a child are all linked to lower depression and anxiety later on.

Growing up experiencing the natural environment helps people understand its benefit.

Those not exposed to nature as children are less likely to appreciate its benefits as an adult, the study also found.

Being in nature has been linked to both better mental and physical health.

Unfortunately, 73 percent of Europeans live in urban areas with little access to green spaces.

As populations worldwide continue to urbanise, the number of people who can easily get out into nature is likely to decrease.

The study included 3,585 people of all ages in four European cities.

All were asked how often they were out in nature as children, whether for purposeful activities like hiking or just playing in the backyard.

Those who had not enjoyed nature as children did not appear to understand its benefits, said Ms Myriam Preuss, the study’s first author:

“In general, participants with lower childhood exposure to nature gave a lower importance to natural environments.”

The main result showed that being in nature more as a child was linked to better mental health as an adult.

Dr Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, study co-author, said:

“Many children in Europe lead an indoors lifestyle, so it would be desirable to make natural outdoor environments available, attractive and safe for them to play in.

We make a call on policymakers to improve availability of natural spaces for children and green school yards,”

The study was published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health (Preuss et al., 2019).

A Childhood Cause Of Adult Suicide Risk (M)

The more of these experiences students had suffered, the higher their levels of suicidal ideation, meaning they were thinking about ending their lives.

The more of these experiences students had suffered, the higher their levels of suicidal ideation, meaning they were thinking about ending their lives.

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How Parents Turn Their Children Into Problematic Perfectionists (M)

Perfectionism is a problematic personality trait that is on the rise.

Perfectionism is a problematic personality trait that is on the rise.

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What The Brain Can Remember From Infancy – Even When Consciously It’s Gone (M)

The astounding power of the unconscious to store information we’ve consciously forgotten.

The astounding power of the unconscious to store information we've consciously forgotten.

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This Parenting Style Reduces Childhood Obesity Risk (M)

While there are many causes of childhood obesity that are outside parent’s control, this behaviour is one area they can address.

While there are many causes of childhood obesity that are outside parent's control, this behaviour is one area they can address.

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Rejection By This Parent Does Most Damage To Personality (M)

Both parents affect your personality, but rejection by one parent could be more critical for long-term development.

Both parents affect your personality, but rejection by one parent could be more critical for long-term development.

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Children Are Hyper-Optimistic Until This Age (M)

Optimism is a very attractive trait and is probably another reason that younger children are so charming in their happy naivety.

Optimism is a very attractive trait and is probably another reason that younger children are so charming in their happy naivety.

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How Family Problems In Childhood Affect Brain Development (M)

Childhood adversity experienced between ages 0-11 associated with a smaller cerebellum.

Childhood adversity experienced between ages 0-11 associated with a smaller cerebellum.

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How Family Problems In Childhood Affect Brain Development

Early life stress has this worrying effect on the brain.

Early life stress has this worrying effect on the brain.

Stress in childhood can put you at greater risk of depression later on, research finds.

Early life stress can affect how DNA is expressed and make an organism more susceptible to stress in adult life.

The conclusions come from an epigenetic study of mice.

The study looked at the effect of molecules that regulate our DNA.

Researchers found that mice exposed to stress early in life were more likely to show signs of depression when stressed as adults.

These changes were also linked to genetic differences.

Dr Catherine Peña, who led the study, said:

“Our work identifies a molecular basis for stress during a sensitive developmental window that programs a mouse’s response to stress in adulthood.

We discovered that disrupting maternal care of mice produces changes in levels of hundreds of genes in the VTA that primes this brain region to be in a depression-like state, even before we detect behavioral changes.

Essentially, this brain region encodes a lifelong, latent susceptibility to depression that is revealed only after encountering additional stress.”

The critical transcription factor is called orthodenticle homeobox 2 (Otx2).

A transcription factor helps to control the way our genes are expressed in our body.

This transcription factor did not just influence the mice in infancy, Dr Peña said:

“We anticipated that we would only be able to ameliorate or mimic the effects of early life stress by changing Otx2 levels during the early sensitive period.

This was true for long-lasting effects on depression-like behavior, but somewhat to our surprise we could also change stress sensitivity for short amounts of time by manipulating Otx2 in adulthood.”

Professor Eric J. Nestler, who led the study, explained the ultimate aim of the research:

“This mouse paradigm will be useful for understanding the molecular correlates of increased risk of depression resulting from early life stress and could pave the way to look for such sensitive windows in human studies.

The ultimate translational goal of this research is to aid treatment discoveries relevant to individuals who experienced childhood stress and trauma.”

The study was published in the journal Science (Peña et al., 2017).

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