Objectives. An attempt was made in the paper to draw attention to the role of childhood trauma in the development of some mental disorders. Another aim was to outline the role of particular neurotransmitters and the stress axis hormones through which traumatic experiences may lead to the development of affective disorders and psychoses.
Review. Childhood exposure to traumatic experiences results in a long-term hyperactivity of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) system, and in numerous changes in the other pathways of neurotransmission. This leads to an enhanced stress responsiveness of the organism.
Conclusions. Research findings accumulated so far seem to confirm the importance of trauma for the development of affective and psychotic disorders, through the individual's increased vulnerability to stress.