When you are exposed to traumatic events at an early age, say, childhood, this can evoke negative effects on how your brain develops through time. Child abuse and other forms of maltreatment are more common than what is being reported in the news. Problems that children go through can be rooted from parental or familial neglect, loss of a parent or loved one, or sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. It is a painful truth that adversities experienced very early in life can ultimately lead to behavioral, emotional, and psychological issues when one grows older.

Fortunately, not every kid that suffers from early life stress develops a mental health problem. It is possible that how children deal with stressful circumstances is not only predisposed by past experience but can also be of genetic causes and brain regulation, among others. This is why brain chemicals like oxytocin and cortisol are vital in the development of the brain.



This is a popular hormone originating from the brain itself. It is commonly known as the ‘love hormone.’ It helps in the promotion of emotions, social skills, and parent-child relationships. Of course, it also helps strengthen romantic bonds. The oxytocin in the brain is not the same for each one, but its importance every day cannot be underemphasized. Differences in this gene can even alter one’s response to stress and anxiety. As Shannon Torberg, PsyD, LP elaborates, “Neuroscientists have found that brain structure is altered by chronic exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, which can be a major contributing factor to anxiety and depression.”


The environment around you can also greatly affect the growth and structure of oxytocin, which begins from the womb, then finally comes out of this world through birth. Thus, during the stages of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, any positive or negative event that happens forms our body’s oxytocin system, so it is safe to say that it is important to be raised by loving and supportive parents. If the opposite happens; however, such as the presence of stress or some kind of mental health issue, there will be harmful effects as well. “Stress can seem omnipresent. Between working, socializing and taking care of the home, it sometimes seems we don’t have a minute to ourselves, let alone enough time to really take care of our bodies and minds.” Sonja Seglin, LCPC explains.


Effects Of Early Life Stress

Previous studies done on mice have revealed how the oxytocin system changes with early or premature trauma. This may increase or decrease one’s oxytocin levels in the brain, ultimately affecting one’s overall mental health.

Changes in the brain of humans, specifically the hypothalamus and amygdala regions, were seen when kids were exposed to childhood pain or distress. Adult men and women who suffered from childhood trauma in the past were seen to have had decreased levels of oxytocin in the brain. Similarly, the same outcomes also presented in children who were neglected or unattended by their parents.

Research and studies have therefore proven that there are indeed longstanding negative behavioral consequences from early life stress, as seen in the damage of the oxytocin system of the rodent as well as the human brain. On the other hand, an efficient oxytocin system results in a stronger resilience against addiction and drug and substance use. Research on animals has revealed that sufficient amounts of oxytocin increase the potential for social connection, decrease depression and anxiety, and improve one’s attitude towards dealing with stress.



“Research tells us that this is a common experience for those under stress. That everyone experiences stress and up to a certain level it can be helpful. Yet, stress can negatively impact one’s normal daily functioning or health.” That is according to Edna M. Esnil, PsyD. While it is true that oxytocin impacts a person’s capacity to cope with stress, it is equally true that other vital neurotransmitters are also important in improving one’s ability to combat anxiety and depression. It is therefore vital to understand how these systems affect a person early on in his life so that we will be able to comprehend how early life problems can influence our mental health in the future.





“Many people turn to therapy because they feel as though they are not functioning.”  Stacy Donn Cristo, LMHC said. So if you notice that your dad, mom, brother, or sister is showing signs of being psychotic, it can indeed be terrifying. Psychosis is a mental issue that is described as a gap from reality, which can undoubtedly include hallucinations, misconceptions, or delusions. It is one of the most symptoms seen in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Frequently, the person who has psychosis is not aware that the symptoms are not common or that he must seek professional help. For this reason, family, friends, and significant others are encouraged to be there for him, although the situation can be devastating for them as well.

Recognizing Initial Symptoms Of Psychosis

The symptoms of the earliest stage of psychosis are typically nonspecific, which makes them hard to identify. This is also why they are not usually considered as dangerous, as a lot of these symptoms may be typical behavioral patterns seen in teenagers. These may include sleep deprivation, erratic mood changes, poor academic performance, lack of joy and interest, and social withdrawal.

There are several reasons why these symptoms occur, some of which are anxiety, substance use, depression, bullying, or trauma. However, when these symptoms begin to magnify into bizarre experiences like hearing and seeing things or paranoia, or thinking that others are always looking or talking about you, then it is most likely that there is an evolving psychotic disorder about to emerge in that person. So if you notice that your loved one becomes unusually anti-social, has no interest in the things he used to enjoy doing, uses drugs or alcohol, or is displaying unusual or weird behavior, it is only worth seeking professional help. Start with visiting your primary physician, and then he will know where to refer you.


Psychotic Symptoms That Need Urgent Psychiatric Attention

“Sometimes the reasons people don’t recognize the signs of suicide is because they are in denial, especially when it comes to those close to them.”  Torey C. Richards, LMHC said. If your loved one is already talking about suicide or complaining that he is disturbed by voices whispering in his ears, it would be wise to send him in for emergency psychiatric help. Other symptoms that need urgent psychiatric care include:

  • Suffering from extreme anxiety and worry that cannot be controlled
  • Displaying bizarre and hysterical behavior
  • Having severe depression that cannot be explained by the person
  • Extreme confusion or awkwardness
  • Displaying unexplained rage or anger

Equipping For Urgent Psychiatric Care

If you have a loved one who is suffering from severe psychosis, it is only wise for you and the family to always be ready for psychiatric emergencies. There should be a well-laid plan of action that the family can implement through the help of a mental health professional. This plan should include the medication list that the person is currently taking, phone numbers of the person’s doctor and the rest of his healthcare team, insurance information, and the list of family members who must be called.


If Your Loved One Refuses Treatment

This is not unusual, as psychotic disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia affect the brain, and often the affected person does not recognize his family member when he becomes manic. Here are some of the simple ways you can try to show support and comfort.

  • Don’t force your loved one to remember you. Just be there to talk to him when he wants to. This will help establish trust. “Acknowledge and accept the feelings: The first step is to learn to bring the feeling out.” Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD said.
  • While he slowly gets comfortable with you, be calm in suggesting that you bring him to the doctor so that he can be seen and evaluated. Do not argue with him if he attempts to, but rather continue to listen to what he has to say.
  • Do not touch him if he is showing withdrawal. He will eventually ask for your help when he calms down. But give him the physical and emotional space that he needs.
  • When he is ready, accompany your loved one to his doctor so that you can provide clearer details about what just transpired or when the symptoms manifested. In an emergency case, your ill loved one may not have the capacity to respond appropriately so that you can do that for him.

In case he becomes violent or forceful, do call the police. Be there the whole time. Keep in mind that your mentally ill loved one did not intentionally act this way but is affected by the mental condition he is suffering with. Remember to show love and strength and patience. That is how you will stay firm in helping and guiding your loved one.







If you are among the individuals who are committed to helping the community that they are in, then you are fortunate enough to reap the positive effects of community involvement and socialization on your emotional and mental well-being. For someone who loves building relationships and learning new things, you will also find more meaning to your daily life when you are part of a community.


There is an opportunity to create a community through the hobbies that you share with neighbors, the place that you beautify together, the experiences that you have in common, and the common goal that you strive to achieve for your community. All these help people (including you) foster a healthier outlook, a better insight, and enhanced self-esteem. “If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it is encouraged that you seek some type of help and support to work through this issue, and to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be.” A reminder from Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D.


Activities like volunteering, hosting soup kitchens, participating in dance or singing groups, and joining groups that help organize community contests and presentations are just some of the many things you can do with your fellow community members to feel a sense of value and belonging. This is important in that when you are confident and happy where you reside; you are somehow far from feeling isolated, depressed, or anxious.


If you want to help others feel satisfied and confident in their community, here are several ways you can increase mental awareness and decrease the debilitating effects of mental illness.


  • Start A Screening Event. Ask help from your friends to host a mental health screening. Here, you can disseminate vital information about taking care of one’s mental health, like finding ways to avoid depression by engaging in sports. First participants who are easy to invite? Your friends, of course.


  • Educate Yourself. Know more about it from the web and read about it from books. Was there a time in your life when you felt you were so stressed out that you almost had it? Learn about the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Subsequently, you can teach others what you learned about mental illness.


  • Encourage Others To Talk Openly. The stigma on mental health still exists, and one way you can help change this is to encourage your community members to talk about it freely. Start with yourself and then let others speak up. Remind the group to be non-judgmental when they listen to the others share their story. Also, remind them to always confide in someone they trust – family, friends, significant others, even their close neighbor if they feel comfortable – because it is important to let it out. “Why talk about your problems including mental health challenges? Just talking about your situation to someone can reduce your stress and help you feel better.” Dr. Aaron Kaplan, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist explains.



  • Teach Them To Watch For Signs Of Mental Illness. People should be able to discern when to reach out to their loved ones if they think they have some kind of mental illness. Encourage them to talk about mental health with family, especially with their kids, which are prone to depression and anxiety themselves.


  • Write A Blog About It. If you have a passion for writing, spending some time creating a blog site about mental health. If you can, visit it once a day and just fill the site with helpful information that could reach a lot of people and help them one way or another. Remember that many mentally-ill people were not given a chance to have themselves treated because they didn’t know they had a mental illness in the first place. “Get outside of whatever your thought of traditional journaling may mean, and have fun with it!” Lindsey Pratt Psychotherapy, LMHC advises.


  • In-School, Let The Teachers Talk About It. Participate in a group where you can educate the teachers about what mental health is. They are a very helpful resource in spreading good news like mental health awareness. Even more complicated is the topic of suicide and suicide prevention, which the students are quite vulnerable to doing when they think there can be no solutions to their problems.



  • Show Support. When you strive to spread mental health awareness, this means that you are supportive of those who have a mild, moderate, or severe mental illness.


  • Arrange Community Workouts. You can hold these workouts in the gymnasium or the park. This leads to improved mental health. Workouts are undeniably an awesome mood booster.


Continue to participate in community activities and reach out to your fellow members so they too will be inspired to do their part as well. Together, your community – and the others – can tremendously help expand mental health awareness wherever you are.