Early Life Stress, Mood, and Anxiety Disorders

Shariful A. Syed, Charles B. Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Early life stress has been shown to exert profound short- and long-term effects on human physiology both in the central nervous system and peripherally. Early life stress has demonstrated clear association with many psychiatric disorders including major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistics Manuel of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnostic categorical system has served as a necessary framework for clinical service, delivery, and research, however has not been completely matching the neurobiological research perspective. Early life stress presents a complex dynamic featuring a wide spectrum of physiologic alterations: from epigenetic alterations, inflammatory changes, to dysregulation of the hypothalamic pituitary axis and has further added to the challenge of identifying biomarkers associated with psychiatric disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health’s proposed Research Domain Criteria initiative incorporates a dimensional approach to assess discrete domains and constructs of behavioral function that are subserved by identifiable neural circuits. The current neurobiology of early life stress is reviewed in accordance with dimensional organization of Research Domain Criteria matrix and how the findings as a whole fit within the Research Domain Criteria frameworks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalChronic Stress
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • child abuse and neglect
  • early life stress
  • epigenetics
  • hypothalamic pituitary axis
  • research domain criteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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