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#223011 - 05/07/08 08:11 AM Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
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Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5773
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
Abuse changes brains of suicide victims
Tue May 6, 2008 9:46pm EDT ON (Reuters) - Suicide victims who were abused as children have clear genetic changes in their brains, Canadian researchers reported on Tuesday in a finding they said shows neglect can cause biological effects.

The findings offer potential ways to find people at high risk of suicide, and perhaps to treat them and prevent future suicides.

And, the researchers said, they also offer insights into how neglect and abuse can perpetuate unhealthy behavior through the generations.

Moshe Szyf of McGill University in Montreal and colleagues studied the brains of 18 men who committed suicide and who were also abused or neglected as children, and compared them to 12 men who also died suddenly but from other causes, and who were not abused, although some had various psychiatric problems such as anxiety disorders.

They found changes in the genetic material of all 18 suicide victims. The changes were not in the genes themselves, but in the ribosomal RNA, which is the genetic material that makes proteins that in turn make cells function.

These changes involved a chemical process called methylation, a so-called epigenetic change involving the processes of turning genes on and off, they reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS ONE, available here .

"The big remaining questions are whether scientists could detect similar changes in blood DNA -- which could lead to diagnostic tests -- and whether we could design interventions to erase these differences in epigenetic markings," Szyf said in a statement.

Dr. Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas said both drugs and psychotherapy may act to reverse some of these changes.

CHANGING THE BRAIN

"Ultimately we believe that a person who gets better from psychotherapy is inducing changes in the brain," Nestler told reporters at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Washington where similar research was discussed.

Szyf's colleague, Michael Meaney, has shown in animals that parental abuse and neglect can affect the brains and behavior of offspring.

He has studied the brains of rats, for whom parental care can be demonstrated in how much the mother grooms her pups.

"You can put two rats on a table and tell which one is raised by a low-licking mother. The one reared by a low-licking mother is more nervous, and fatter," Meaney said in an interview at the Psychiatric Association meeting.

Images of the brain cells of the rats show the brain cells of low-licking mothers have fewer dendrites. These are the strands that help one neuron communicate with another.

Meaney, who also worked on the suicide study, said the research, taken together, demonstrates how early experiences can cause physical changes in the brain.

He said female rats reared by low-licking mothers reached puberty earlier, meaning they had more offspring.

Similar findings are true of humans, who often have children at younger ages when times are stressful. The best way to pass along genes in uncertain times is to have more children, he said.


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#223019 - 05/07/08 10:27 AM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
Jarrad Offline
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Registered: 10/27/06
Posts: 1071
Loc: arizona
thats interesting. at work i had seminar about the brain. it was more "right brain" "left brain" thing and how different types of people work together. We were all tested to see what percentage of each quadrant we posess (creative, social,analytical, structural.)after we were given out little pie charts that makes up our whole brain, we talked about changing our percentages. the leader said that there are two ways to change them. drugs and trauma. with drugs, it alters your brian (which we know this already.) but once you stop using, your brain will go back to how it was. (im talking talking the phyical brain changes like killing brain cells.) so if you are very left brained (analitcal and structural) you will retrun to that after the drug use stops.

on the trauma aspect of that, he was on the fence if your brain returns back to how it was. if it does, its a slow process. he gave the example of one woman who was very left brained. she was a survivor of the sept 11 attacks. upon being tested again after, she was more right brained. (mostly more social which is the part that is really concerned with "how everyone is doing") the lecturer said that she will probably eventually go back to her "old brain" but wasnt sure.

so im wondering, if your brain is changed due to tramua, and you produce children during that time, are you changing the genetics? it seems like that is the case for rats as ken mentioned. its really fascinating to me.


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#223125 - 05/07/08 08:56 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: Jarrad]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
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Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5773
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I don't think that structural changes would affect genetic or DNA factors. Certain things can alter DNA such as exposure to toxins if they are passed on in the reproductive cells (eggs and sperm) which is why it is not a good idea for people who thinking about getting pregnant should do certain drugs/medications.

However, there are some mutagens that can alter DNA and some that can just screw up to sperm or egg cells.

Disclaimer: this is just based on what I remember from reading or trainings, and I am not a biologist, MD, or any other profession that should know better. If we have someone with more accurate info, please correct what I posted here.



Edited by Ken Singer, LCSW (05/07/08 08:56 PM)

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#223176 - 05/08/08 01:34 AM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
pufferfish Offline
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Registered: 02/26/08
Posts: 6712
Loc: USA
Yes, but. . .

Probably being a perp affects their brain.

Probably being a selfish creep affects their brain.

Probably there is a good bit of plasticity in the adult brain that allows us a lot of latitude to respond to therapy.

We really can overcome many of the effects of the abuse, even some of the neurological ones.

Techniques such as EMDR have the capability to reconnect brain regions that have been artificially compartmentalized.

We can learn to love, to live to enjoy.


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#223212 - 05/08/08 09:26 AM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
reality2k4 Offline
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Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6838
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
Ken. More of the one size fits all, I am afraid.
You can read the comments to the original article.

New Scientist article

It's worth the time to read,

ste

_________________________
Whoever stole the Sun, put it back and we'll drop all the charges!

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#223263 - 05/08/08 02:18 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: reality2k4]
alexey Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 08/16/05
Posts: 1674
Loc: Moscow, Russia
Ken,

I read about light therapy that helps people with seasonal affective disorder. The mechanism that this kind of therapy uses is based on the fact that light, perceived by both the skin and eyes, alters certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are on the highest level when we are asleep, and in normal people, their level decreases when we wake up (naturally) and when we see the sun light. So, the full-spectrum sun light can positively affect depression treatment.

When, on the other hand, we talk about childhood abuse that alters the brain functions, the question logically arises: What will treat the disfunctons that the abuse caused to the brain? Is it psychotherapy that alters the brain?

While I am not talking about DNA changes, I can certainly see that as the T helps abuse survivors to start thinking in different way about lots of things, certain changes happen in the brain. New connections between newrons establish and the brain's activity can intensify. That is the process of learning, in a word.

However, I don't understand how genetic brain changes, uncovered by the research, can be reversed in a highly precision way.

Moreover, I doubt that the Russian neurophisiologists will be able to do that in at least the nearest 10 years.

Iteresting article, that is.

Thanks.

Alexey



Edited by alexey (05/08/08 05:02 PM)
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#223280 - 05/08/08 04:37 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: alexey]
reality2k4 Offline
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MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/06/04
Posts: 6838
Loc: Stuck between water, air, and ...
Hi Alexie, it's not possible to match two brains, or more, in their dysfunctional response to the many influences in childhood.

There are far too many factors relating how the brain responds to abuse or any other life threatening response.
The mind, in a person who commits suicide, may not relate to abuse at all, but a number of other reasons.

There is however a massively different response to children who suffer abuse or terror, whatever.
They tend to show a 'resilience', and mask out what they really feel, which tends to lead to lack of bonding within the family unit, and most friendships are lost because of the lack of trust within the friend/s.

The science we are being shown in the article, is at least flawed, because your DNA profile can only make you fight or give up.

Those guys who do ridiculously risky things, like jumping off mountains with a parachute, could be born with a DNA, which makes them think they are indistructive.
The same can be said of an abused kid,or the mad guys who do the jump.

He may not see how destructive his life is, and may not truly understand the risk factors involved.

I have to say that, anyone who is thinking of taking their lives, it is imperative to speak about it!
Your life is always worth more than anyone can know,

ste







Edited by reality2k4 (05/08/08 04:45 PM)
_________________________
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#223298 - 05/08/08 06:29 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: reality2k4]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
I hope some one examines my brain when I die. I found our by accident a few years ago that I have no discernable brain wave activity. For which I can only speculate about may be due to several severe head traumas. Or maybe I just never had any. I had them put on my chart not to pull the plug based on the standard EEG test. While the lights may be off I could still be alone there in the dark.


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#223318 - 05/08/08 09:36 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: Freedom49]
king tut Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2465
Loc: UK
Reading over your post i can see what you are saying, and it is clear without research that there are going to be chemical changes, since although not exclusively we are chemical (biological) beings. You talk about changes in RNA, sure, ok, that doesn't really tell you much anyway, but as far as i know RNA isn't the genetic transferrable coding. So still i'm struggling to see the link with behaviour through the generations due to altered genetics as you mentioned primarily. You quoted that they are looking for changes in DNA to find this pattern. In your second post you talk about your opinion on the DNA factor. You say you don't think it will affect DNA, i agree.

the post is verging on a nice bit of negative news there, almost trying to claim that abuse messes you up making genetic changes not only for you but for all your descendents. i'll have to remember to put my children on suicide watch when i have them.

seriously, i'll please myself by telling myself that that is a load of mumbo jumbo

To be quite brutal, i do think that this idea of DNA change that will give your children suicidal tendencies is a load of crap, perhaps these scientists dont get out much and have never seen children before. i guess you can go back to the questions of nurture or nature or any other never ceasing terms you may want to discuss to destroy the arguement, but instead i'll just assure you that this world is greater and more resilient than i think these apparent scientists know, and it is just typical of biologists and chemists to come up with such bull shit ideas that really have no scope in the real world, they are the kind of scientists that give other scientists a bad name most of the time with all the fucked up things they like to do. They see life in an analytical way which misses the point of life and existence altogether and to try to say that our children are going to be fucked up is a heinous crime and irresponsible, they have no scope, and no real understanding, it's bull shit.

also the example of the rats is about brain changes in the rat that was "abused" by a low-licking mother or whatever, and not about independent next generation offspring, so those kind of brain changes are just a demonstration of chemical response through nurture and does not imply much more than that, which we already know.

_________________________
"...until lambs become lions"

I love you, little lewis, and i will never leave you. We are the same. You brighten my day, and i will make sure that i brighten yours. Hugs and kisses.


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#223320 - 05/08/08 09:45 PM Re: Suicide and Abuse Victims' Brains [Re: king tut]
Freedom49 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/30/07
Posts: 2723
Loc: Washington State
Lewis you have been reading to many of Brian's posts. You are starting to drop F bombs like frost. LOL


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