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Stress Hormones And Trauma: The Response Starts In Utero

Recently, we discussed how trauma can start in the womb. The fetus absorbs everything experienced by the mother including her emotional states. Research in recent years has found that the fetus absorbs more than emotions, but the chemical reactions emotions can produce in the body and vice versa.

Stress is more than an emotional experience. Human bodies have evolved over time to cope with stress by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline during the fight or flight response. What started as a need to be able to outlive dangerous predators has turned into a confused response to all kinds of triggers in life. How one responds to stress is largely shaped by the stress they have experienced, which is why the dysfunctional response to trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some humans develop PTSD and some do not, for a variety of reasons.

In 2013, researchers from England announced their discovery that a certain malfunction in placenta surrounding an unborn child might contribute to that child’s ability to tolerate, regulate, and process stress in their born lives. A specific enzyme should be found in the placenta. Researchers found that this enzyme protects the fetus from the impactful harm of strong stress hormones like cortisol. Some mothers’ placenta do not produce this enzyme enough to efficiently protect the fetus from stress hormones. As a result, when the child develops later in life, they are at a higher risk for developing mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Additionally, children who experience more impact of stress hormones in utero may be more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic incident, or struggle to healthily cope with trauma.

Grown and developed humans are already at a fault when it comes to handling stress. Few school lessons or parental guidance include how to cope with rape, abuse, emotional neglect, terrorism, violence, or other traumatic events. Most humans are unaware that guilt, shame, and other seemingly minor experiences can be very powerful traumatic events. The human fetus is completely helpless and lacking in both the psychological as well as physiological mechanisms necessary to process and deal with stress. Weakened in this area, as children and later adults, coping with stress of any kind, let a lone traumatic stress, is done in deficit.

At The Guest House Ocala, we welcome everyone who has experienced trauma and, as a result, is suffering from addictions, mental health disorders, or other manifestations. Our programs are custom tailored to the specific experiences and needs of each client. Everyone has a story. Change yours today. Call us at Call 1-855-483-7800.