STRESS AND BEHAVIOR
Stress in early life may have long-lasting effects on behavior. Concentration, distractibility, executive function, and emotional regulation may be adversely influenced by early exposure to stress. Children who experience stress in early life in the absence of secure attachments may lose their ability to modulate impulsivity and the intensity of their feelings. The manifestations may range from learning abilities to aggression against self or others. Children who have received inadequate early care may have higher rates of personality disorders, marital discord and disruptions, and difficulty with their own parenting abilities. Previously abused or maltreated children have increased likelihood of depressive and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, suicide attempts, substance abuse and addiction, criminal behavior, and other interpersonal difficulties.
The societal cost of neglect during critical periods of infant development is an increase in violence, crime, mental health disorders, unproductive adults, and unstable family situations. Early exposure to stress may be ameliorated by a positive relationship with a competent adult, skill at learning and problem solving, engaging personality, competence and perceived efficacy by self or society, high IQ score, positive school experience, mastery of motivation, and previous successful coping experiences and, later, marriage to a supportive, nondeviant partner.