This video explains how negative experiences in childhood can impose large costs on brain health and development later in life. Our bodies respond to stress through various physiological mechanisms, such as increasing heart rate and the release of certain hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These processes are not necessarily harmful if attentive caregivers are present to limit their duration, intensity, and frequency.
With strong social support, stress can be either positive or tolerable and result in healthy development. If a child lacks those resources or if stressors are severe, recurring, and chronic, hormone levels will stay high, disrupting the development of brain architecture. Toxic stress can include abuse and neglect and may result in serious mental and physical health problems beyond childhood.