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Resilience or vulnerability. A person’s early stressful experiences can foster their ability to overcome adversity or increase their chances of developing adjustment disorders and chronic mental-health problems. What makes the difference? The key is in the intensity, frequency and controllability of the stress, as well as the individual’s biological predisposition to overcoming difficult moments in life.

On 25 and 26 October, B·Debate, an initiative of Biocat and the “la Caixa” Foundation, is bringing together international researchers to debate the consequences of stressful prenatal, childhood and teenage experiences in adulthood. The event is organized by the Autonomous University of Barcelona Institut de Neurociències with collaboration from CORE in Mental HealthVall d'Hebron Research Institute and The Institute for the Study of Affective Neuroscience.

Epidemiological data estimates that 2 in 10 children in Spain suffer mental-health problems. Experts calculate that 70% of adjustment disorders can be traced back to prenatal, childhood or teenage experiences. Some experiences that can have a positive effect include, for example, the right parental care or achievable challenges.

So, the difference is between positive and negative stress. The former can help children see experiences as a challenge and not a threat, improving their resilience and ability to handle difficult situations in adult life (losing a job or a loved one). However, toxic or damaging stress, like school bullying or abuse, is the main factor that increases a person’s vulnerability to developing mental disorders. Early abuse of psychotropic drugs compounds this.

Roser Nadal and Adolf Tobeña, of the Autonomous University of Barcelona Institut de Neurociències, are leading this debate entitled Early Life Experiences. Vulnerability or resilience?. Participants in the congress will include other top-notch scientists like Rachel Yehuda, an international benchmark in post-traumatic stress caused by war.



Date: 25 and 26 October

Venue: CosmoCaixa Barcelona

More information is available on the B·Debate website.

Follow the debate on Twitter with the hashtags #BDEarlyLife and #BDebate and the profile @BDebate.


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