Back in January I shared an article by MindWorks that talked about “Violence in the home can have devastating effects on a child’s developing brain. In some cases there might even be symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
I have mentioned before that the brain doesn’t distinguish between real and imagined events, and so when someone thinks about a traumatic past event they can actually produce the same chemicals and hormones that they did when they previously experienced that event.
This can also be said when someone is so engrossed watching a horrific event, and unintentionally place themselves in that event, their brain can believe it is happening to them and so put their nervous system into a state of distress.
Therefore these children living in violent homes are living in a battle field regardless of whether the violence is directed to them or not.
Their brain becomes programmed to be “on alert” at all times and so they function in a continual state of “fight/flight” which they grow up believing is normal. This then can cause many and varied mental, emotional and physical symptoms throughout their life, for example, night terrors, bed wetting, digestive issues, depression, anger issues, low self-esteem, learning difficulties, etc.
Contrast that information with an article I shared from Mercola.com titled “Could a Hug a Day Keep Infection Away?”
Dr Mercola goes on to write “Infants deprived of touch typically experience developmental delays. Their growth is often impaired, as is their cognitive development. Rates of serious infections and attachment disorders also increase in children who have been deprived of this apparently innate need.”
He goes on further talking about studies of premature infants and the benefits of being held skin-to-skin.
And he mentions “even non-human primates may spend up to 20 percent of their day grooming each other.”
He says that “it’s been shown that people who are under stress and in conflict with others are more susceptible to viruses like the common cold.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University set out to determine whether social support, as gauged by hugging, might in turn be protective against such infections.
It turns out their hypothesis was right. Among 404 adults, those who had greater social support and recieved frequent hugs during conflicts were less likely to “catch” a cold after they were exposed to the virus.
The hugs, researchers said, were responsible for about one-third of the protective effect.”
How is this possible? “… hugging increases levels of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This, in turn, may have beneficial effects on your heart health and more.
One study found, for instance, that women had lower blood pressure following a brief episode of warm contact with their partner. A 20-second hug along with 10 minutes of hand-holding, also reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate.”
“… hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Hugging also activates the orbitofrontal cortex in your brain, which is linked to feelings of reward and compassion.”
According to Dr Mercola “It has been described in the medical literature that “four hugs per day was an antidote for depression, eight hugs per day would achieve mental stability and twelve hugs per day would achieve real psychological growth.”
However he does also mention that “Hugging is Only One Option”.
“If you have a pet, just a few minutes petting your dog or cat can promote the release of your body’s “happiness” hormones, including oxytocin.”
In saying that, we have our excitable, often over-the-top puppy who has just had his first birthday that would always be up for a pat if you’re interested – just make sure he is being rewarded for having all four paws on the ground – no jumping up!!