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Over the past few years, the range of research on human development has expanded from primarily focusing on child development to the inclusion of adult development. This new scope of research has opened up a multitude of questions regarding the physiological, behavioural, and psychological changes that develop through this stage of life. Curiosities that researchers are inspired to explore include, the impact of trauma encountered at a young age has on adults as they enter late-adulthood. Children’s early experiences set the foundation towards building their health, and life status.
For such young individuals to live successfully later in life, it is important for them to build a secure, trusting relationship with their guardians, experience emotional support, receive adequate nutrition, housing, and have a safe environment for development and growth. This ideal childhood experience does not seem to be the case for several youngsters who have sustained unforgettable, harmful events such as trauma, neglect, or abuse. Researchers have conducted several studies to understand the impact that this has on the children as they get older and advance into adolescence. This is seen to be a topic that is immensely focused on in regards to the younger population. However, researchers are further interested in whether these unpleasant incidents have a long-lasting psychological impact on these individuals as they age and enter old age. Research has shown how several people within the elderly population experience thoughts of suicide, depression and other psyciatric disorders. With these factors in mind, researchers hope to analyze whether such trauma can potentially cause psychiatric disorders. To understand the effects of such experiences researchers have conducted studies incorporating both longitudinal and cross-sectional studies.
The article “Adverse Childhood Experiences and Geriatric Depression: Results from the 2010 BRFSS,” effectively contributes to the further understanding of this topic. The study explores whether adverse events during childhood have an impact on the specific diagnosis of geriatric depression. Geriatric depression is a mental disorder that leads to decreased motivation and reduces their quality of life. Symptoms of depression may be assumed to be apart of the normal aging process although it is classified as a negative aging process. Prior to beginning the study, researchers hypothesized that children who were abused emotionally, physically or sexually, are more prone to experiencing depression. They also predicted that multiple and repeated exposures to such traumatic experiences has a higher impact of depression.
To test their hypothesis, the authors conducted a study that used a cross-sectional design which analyzed data collected from the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The participants involved include 8, 051 individuals over the age of 60 and were selected randomly within the four states Nevada, Vermont, Hawaii, and Wisconsin in the United States. The study involved different types of surveys which were conducted through the telephone. Within these surveys informants were questioned regarding abuse experienced during childhood, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and also screened for depression. Based on the participants’ performance on the depression screening questionnaire, they were divided into two groups, depressed, and non depressed. The data within the two groups were compared within the grouped age intervals 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79 and 80+. When comparing the results obtained from the different age groups, it was found that the number of individuals diagnosed with depression decreased with increased age.
However, upon analysis of the data collected, researchers found a positive correlation between geriatric depression and horrifying experiences encountered during childhood in general. They were also able to identify that there was a higher prevalence of geriatric depression within individuals who encountered physical and sexual abuse, and also those who experienced multiple of these reoccuring events. Similar to this, another study conducted by Rapsey, Scott, and Patterson (2018) assists with the comprehension of the enduring effect such occurrences have within the elderly population. This article attempts to analyze the association between mental disorders and terrorizing experiences during childhood impacting the older generation. The disorders examined involve depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The specific events mainly observed involve maltreatment, neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and family violence. To further analyze this, researchers conducted a study using a longitudinal design that involved 2,220 women.
This sample size involved those who stated they experienced childhood abuse and those who stated that they did not. The researchers created this study group by selectively choosing those who have reported experiencing an adverse childhood experience and randomly selecting those who have not. The study was conducted through an interview with the participants in the beginning of the study, six years after, and 25 years later. Based on the results accumulated throughout the study, researchers found that there was a much lower percentage of individuals experiencing anxiety, PTSD and depression as they age regardless of their childhood experience. However, when comparing and analyzing the data retrieved from both groups with different pasts, it was found that a larger percentage of the participants who had a traumatic childhood experience encountered one or more of the internalizing disorders tested. Compared to different types of trauma the participants experienced, it was found that those who encountered sexual abuse, or poly-vicitimization were more likely to have a higher prevalence of one of the disorders.
Overall, it is evident how the longitudinal study conducted explicitly displays how such horrifying events have a long-lasting affect that continues to impact individuals as they age. Overall, when comparing the two articles, it is evident that both studies examined have similar findings based on the research topic analyzed. Both articles display how unpleasant experiences encountered at a young age have an impact on an individual’s health as they age and enter adulthood. From the first study, which had a cross-sectional design, the researchers were able to find that a large percent of the population regardless of age, experienced depression due to their past histories. This study not only clarified the correlation between the two factors but also helped understand that depression in particular, is one of the major psychological disorders that one can encounter, or be at high risk of experiencing. Moreover, the results researchers found from the second study also supported the association found from the first study.
Unlike the first study, they analyzed how traumatic events do not only lead to depression but also other internalizing disorders such as anxiety and PTSD. At the same time, the results obtained from both studies did not look at a specific type of trauma but its impact of various types. These events include physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, anxiety and PTSD. When comparing the impact these different events have on individuals both findings show how those who experienced seuxal abuse or multiple experiences are more prone to having a long lasting impact on the person. Although both studies seem to support this, it is important to keep in mind the limitations that impact the accuracy and reliability of them both. Based on the method used for the first study, one can observe how participants may include bias when recalling their past experiences, which may alter the accuracy of the results. This is also seen to be a possible limitation affecting the data collected from the second study. In addition, the second study is also seen to be impacted due the high attrition as only 39% of the original population were interviewed 25 years later. The implementation of therapeutic interventions such as receiving social support may possibly eliminate the prevalence of these internalizing disorders. Overall, it is evident how traumatic experiences during childhood profoundly impacts older adults.
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