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Compr Psychiatry. 2010 Mar-Apr;51(2):121-9. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 Aug 29.

Is impulsivity a link between childhood abuse and suicide?

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA. dbraquehais@yahoo.es

Abstract

Childhood abuse and neglect are known to affect psychological states through behavioral, emotional, and cognitive pathways. They increase the risk of having psychiatric diseases in adulthood and have been considered risk factors for suicidal behavior in all diagnostic categories. Early, prolonged, and severe trauma is also known to increase impulsivity, diminishing the capacity of the brain to inhibit negative actions and to control and modulate emotions. Many neurobiological studies hold that childhood maltreatment may lead to a persistent failure of the inhibitory processes ruled mainly by the frontal cortex over a fear-motivated hyperresponsive limbic system. Multiple neurotransmitters and hormones are involved in the stress response, but, to our knowledge, the two major biological consequences of the chronic exposure to trauma are the hypofunction of the serotonergic system and changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function. Some of these findings overlap with the neurobiological features of impulsivity and of suicidal behavior. Impulsivity has also been said to be both a consequence of trauma and a risk factor for the development of a pathological response to trauma. Thus, we suggest that impulsivity could be one of the links between childhood trauma and suicidal behavior. Prevention of childhood abuse could significantly reduce suicidal behavior in adolescents and adults, in part, through a decrease in the frequency of impulsive behaviors in the future.

PMID:
20152291
DOI:
10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.05.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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