Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex - Forums at Psych Central


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Old 01-30-2019, 01:57 AM #1
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Default Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

Long story short: I experienced Adolescent Social Isolation from 14-18 years old, I was basically locked in my house with only my caregiver to interact with alongwith some internet friends I managed to speak with once in a while.
I've been looking into the studies that say the PFC is in a critical state of development during these years and that I may suffer from a poorly developed/ short circuited PFC with all my psychological and emotional and neurological symptoms.
Is there a term other than Adolescent Social isolation? Is there aspecific disorder caused by these circumstances?
What can I call it to explain it to a therapist in a nutshell? Can give more info if necessary. Ty.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:15 AM #2
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

I'm so sorry you're struggling, Aandeg59 Unfortunately I don't know what it may be. I don't even know if there's a specific disorder for it. The only way to know for sure is to talk to a doctor about this and get a proper diagnosis. I'd suggest to just explain what you've wrote here to your therapist. Perhaps he/she will be able to help and to give it a name. I'm so sorry, please don't give up. I hope you'll get the help you need and deserve. Try to hang on. You can do this! You're strong, I know that. I believe in you. Feel free to PM me anytime. Let me know if I can do something to help you. Wish you good luck! Let us know how it goes. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:24 AM #3
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

I'm not sure what else to call it, I didn't know there was such a name in the first place! However, I can relate. I spent a lot of time alone and isolated in the summers of my adolescence, and I sometimes wonder what kind of impact that had on me. Perhaps you don't need to have a specific name just to tell a therapist. I think you can just talk freely, and the therapist will understand. That's what they're there for. Hugs to you.
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Old 01-30-2019, 12:09 PM #4
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

I tried my best to BE isolated when I was young. I ALWAYS liked being alone, especially after I learned that not many people were like me and were more a complication than a joy.
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Old 01-30-2019, 07:58 PM #5
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

Actually, I learned in my psychology class the brain goes through multiple major maturation from birth, not limiting to adolescence but into adulthood as well. The prefrontal cortex is most known to aid in cognitive maturation but not the only factor.

Fun fact: Your brain is the least organ to be damaged in extreme situations such as malnutrition; if you were severely malnourished, all organs would shut down and deteriorate before your brain does; you have a lining wrapped around your brain to protect itself from damage.

Also, on a non-psychology note, most moody teenagers are known to suffer from spells from being isolated shut-ins. It's what you do in that isolation that counts. :P
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Old 01-30-2019, 08:01 PM #6
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

when you say you were locked in, do you mean you were like a literal prisoner? You weren't allowed to go out or even to school? If that's the case, I would say some real damage has been done.

I isolated myself somewhat but it was nothing like that.
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Old 01-30-2019, 10:51 PM #7
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

Quote:
Originally Posted by downandlonely View Post
when you say you were locked in, do you mean you were like a literal prisoner? You weren't allowed to go out or even to school? If that's the case, I would say some real damage has been done.

I isolated myself somewhat but it was nothing like that.
Yes, I was a literal prisoner. I was not allowed to go to public school, I wasn't allowed out by myself period, I wasn't really allowed to go anywhere. I wasn't allowed to speak to anyone on my own accord, and if I did it was very scripted by my caregiver. I lived for 4 years under those conditions (14-18).
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:08 AM #8
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Default Re: Adolescent Social Isolation and the Prefrontal Cortex

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aandeg59 View Post
Long story short: I experienced Adolescent Social Isolation from 14-18 years old, I was basically locked in my house with only my caregiver to interact with alongwith some internet friends I managed to speak with once in a while.
I've been looking into the studies that say the PFC is in a critical state of development during these years and that I may suffer from a poorly developed/ short circuited PFC with all my psychological and emotional and neurological symptoms.
Is there a term other than Adolescent Social isolation? Is there aspecific disorder caused by these circumstances?
What can I call it to explain it to a therapist in a nutshell? Can give more info if necessary. Ty.
Hello Aandeg. Sorry to hear that you have been struggling. How old are you now? When you say "basically locked in the house with a caregiver" for four years...are you saying you were illegally prevented from leaving your home...you didn't go to school? Or is that your way of describing intense social anxiety and not feeling like going out much in public? Sorry in advance if I misunderstood your post.

What are the "neurological symptoms" you mention? Have these been identified/addressed by a MD? Or are you self-diagnosing? What are your "psych and emotional symptoms?" While I applaud anyone taking charge of their health, internet research among non-medical people can be problematic...you may find worst-case scenarios which are alarming for you or even become convinced that you have a particular Dx which you don't. If you know what I mean...can be a bit like going down a rabbit hole.

Your prefrontal cortex is important for impulse control. Trauma in childhood (or adulthood) can certainly affect brain development. The good news is that with the plasticity of the brain (particularly younger brains) it is a remarkably complex organ which can also recover from trauma. I don't know if you mentioned if you're male or female but the male frontal lobes (your PFC is in the frontal lobe) are thought to continue developing through ~ age 35. It used to be said they were completed at age 25...more recent research suggests otherwise.

I think it may not be in your best interests to read the research on trauma's negative effects on the brain because it could cause you more anxiety or fear about your own development and outcomes. For example, I went through a period in my life when I had really bad insomnia and intense stress. I am aware of research on how chronic stress and sleep deprivation can have intense effects on the brain etc. I intentionally avoid reading those because that was my reality back then...nothing I could have done to prevent it...I focus on the present and doing the best I can to be healthy. It would only cause me more stress to hear the #s and stats on harmful effects of sleep deprivation on life expectancy etc.

If you are having problems with day to day function, I recommend consultation with your local MD. He/she can refer you to a neuropsychologist or speech-language pathologist for cognitive assessment...that would screen areas like attention, memory, executive function etc. If you are found to have some cognitive changes or deficits, there is a lot that can be done with professional help in order to improve your function or help you adapt as needed.

Your MD can determine if you need to be assessed by a neurologist. That would typically not be the starting point unless you're having severe or obvious signs of neurological damage.

With regard to your emotional well-being, a psychologist could help you there. With coping strategies and support. Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a research-based method which is very effective for helping people who are reactive and have difficulty with impulse control...if that's what you are struggling with. Of course, these things take time and patience...wouldn't be a quick fix or a pill. And anyone concerned about impulse control should avoid alcohol or any other recreational substances...those exacerbate the problem and can cause permanent damage.

Rather than reading about trauma's negative effects on brain, I recommend researching strategies which support good cognitive health. For example, reducing screen time, limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol. So many great tips out there. In general, the things MDs advise people to do/avoid for good cardiac health are also great for brain health.

Hard to comment specifically without knowing more detail. And of course, none of us here on PC are doctors. We cannot assess or diagnose you. Generally we offer ideas and support.

I wish you peace and good health.

Last edited by Anonymous57363; 01-31-2019 at 03:01 AM.
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