The brain works in several unusual and unexpected ways, and age regression is one of these intriguing mechanisms. It occurs when one’s brain reverts to a younger state of mind and mimics behaviors associated with that phase.
Interestingly, while regression can often be a response to trauma or a symptom of underlying mental disorders, age regression therapy is also used in psychotherapy to address repressed emotions from an earlier phase of life. Moreover, a regression can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on the triggers and root causes.
Based on the age regression causes that are different across individuals, the requirement for treatment might vary. Here is everything you need to know about this condition if you or a loved one is showing its symptoms.
What Is Age Regression?
Age regression is a phenomenon in which the brain reverts to a younger state of mind. In some cases, this younger state of mind may coincide with a few years ago, while in others, adults may regress to their childhood. The individual starts behaving in manners corresponding with this younger state, which could be using baby talk or displaying other childlike behavior, such as snuggling with a blanket for comfort.
Age regression symptoms may vary across individuals based on the stage they regress. People regressing to their childhood may mimic their behavior from that age, such as nail biting or throwing temper tantrums. Meanwhile, people regressing to an age that is only a few years shorter than their current physical age may show subtle changes in their mannerisms. However, the common factor here is that the brain is convinced that it is at an earlier stage in life.
While the signs of age regression are often an indicator of an underlying mental health disorder, a regression can sometimes be voluntary or performed as a part of psychotherapy. Therefore, identifying the underlying root cause of regression can help you treat it if needed.
What Are the Different Types of Age Regression?
- Voluntary Regression – Voluntary regression refers to age regression as a form of self-help. In this type of regression, the individual regresses to a younger state to cope better with a difficult or traumatic situation. In this case, regression is a voluntary response to trauma or stress.
Regression Therapy – Age regression therapy is a treatment used by certain psychotherapists that helps the patient deal with repressed emotions from the past. It may have left them oversensitive to certain triggers.
Results from some studies reveal that regression therapy may help patients address unresolved trauma from the past, which can heal their present phobias or anxiety.
- Recreational Regression – In some cases, individuals may knowingly exhibit the signs of age regression to relieve certain phases of their life. It often equates to a temporary escape from present life by experiencing more pleasant phases from the past.
- Symptom Of Underlying Conditions – Regression is often a symptom of underlying mental health conditions like PTSD, dementia, or schizophrenia. Age regression BPD is also a common condition in which a person suffering from borderline personality disorder regresses to a younger self. In such cases, the underlying conditions require the appropriate treatment, which may prevent the patient from regressing.
What Are the Top Causes of Age Regression?
Regression is often caused by a stress-inducing trigger. It could be a traumatic, fear-arousing, or anxiety-inducing situation. Alternatively, age regression can be caused by the following mental health conditions:
1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is one of the top age regression causes. It is a mental health disorder that may occur after someone experiences a traumatic event. It impacts the trauma-coping mechanisms and results in an elevated fight-or-flight response. These symptoms may cause an individual to regress to their younger selves under stress as a coping mechanism.
2. Personality Disorders
Age regression BPD is another common form of regression. Individuals suffering from a personality disorder may involuntarily regress to a younger self. Their brain is convinced that they are their younger self during this regression. Therapy can help reduce their symptoms and restore their quality of life.
3. Mood Disorders
Individuals suffering from mood disorders may display age regression symptoms. Depression or bipolar disorder can be the underlying causes of regression. Symptoms include low self-esteem, mood swings, anxiety, and fatigue, which may trigger a regression.
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition with hallucinations as its characteristic symptom. Those suffering from this condition experience delusions and may also exhibit signs of age regression. Treatment of schizophrenia should prevent these symptoms, including regression.
Apart from the above, studies suggest that regression can also be caused by conditions like catatonia, delirium, and dementia. A thorough diagnosis by a skilled mental health professional is necessary for the adequate treatment of the root cause behind regression.
Psychological Theories Behind Age Regression
Different psychologists and neurologists have varied theories about age regression causes. According to Sigmund Freud, regression is the ego’s unconscious defense against stress or trauma. In that sense, it is a protective mechanism that may allow the individual to react to a situation as their younger self instead of treating it with an adult’s maturity. On the other hand, his daughter Anna describes it as retreating into a safer space under stress, which for many is their childhood persona.
Renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung describes regression in a more positive light. He theorizes that the mind attempts to achieve the innocence, security, or trust that one associate with their childhood. These theories offer different explanations behind age regression symptoms. While some consider it an immature or suboptimal way to deal with stress, others believe that it is the mind’s self-healing mechanism to seek comfort.
How Is Age Regression Used in Therapy?
Age regression therapy is a technique used by some mental health professionals to help individuals recover from childhood or early life trauma. In this technique, the professional uses a combination of hypnosis and regression to take the individual back to the traumatic situation and help them resolve it.
In turn, it may reduce the impact of unresolved trauma in their present-day behaviour, which often manifests as phobias, anxiety, or elevated stress. This type of therapy is considered controversial by some as they believe that it can lead to the retrieval of false memories or may not be fully effective. Moreover, in the case of retrieval of false memories, it may cause further anguish to the individual. Therefore, there are divided opinions regarding the safety and efficacy of regression therapy.
Common Signs & Symptoms Of Age Regression
1. Childlike Behavior
Most individuals regress to their childhood selves and may exhibit behavior that they exhibited as a child. It could include speaking like a baby, snuggling a toy or blanket for comfort, or curling up in a fetal position.
Some individuals may exhibit movements like rocking or pacing, which are associated with their younger selves. There could be a childlike restlessness in their movements.
Temper tantrums, mood swings, and whininess are common behaviors of children that one may exhibit while regressing. It can be an involuntary coping mechanism to deal with stressful or traumatic situations.
4. Voluntary Regression Symptoms
Voluntary regression to cope with stress or anxiety is often accompanied by a slightly different behavior. In this scenario, the individual may start playing with children’s toys, wearing children’s clothes, or filling their space with objects associated with kids.
Is Age Regression Dangerous?
Age regression symptoms on their own may not be dangerous. However, they are usually a sign of underlying mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. These conditions can be dangerous if left untreated. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the root cause behind the regression and address it with the appropriate treatment that applies to the said cause. While voluntary regression to seek comfort under stressful situations is usually safe, you may need medical intervention if your symptoms are involuntary.
In most cases, the first step towards understanding the root cause behind your symptoms and identifying conditions like age regression BPD is therapy. A therapist can help you navigate your symptoms and emotions and suggest further medical interventions that you may need.
How To Overcome Age Regression?
Involuntary regression in children is common and may go away with time, especially when provided with a safe and loving environment. However, older children and adults may require intervention for treating the signs of age regression. Visiting a therapist is recommended if your symptoms are frequent and involuntary. The therapist can help you identify your triggers and may also be able to determine the underlying root cause of regression. They can even help you find better coping mechanisms for stress and other triggers.
If therapy reveals a more serious underlying mental health condition such as schizophrenia or depression, you must seek treatment for the same. Once you treat the underlying condition, you should stop exhibiting the symptoms of regression. Furthermore, this can help you prevent more severe symptoms of the underlying disorder.
FAQs About Age Regression
Age regression BPD is one of the common forms of regression. In this scenario, an underlying personality disorder causes the individual to regress to their younger self.
Regression can start at any age and is common in children, as well as adults. It is more natural for children and may go away with time, while for adults, it may happen after a traumatic event or due to underlying mental health conditions.
Age regression can be a voluntary stress-coping mechanism for some individuals. For others, the symptoms are involuntary and are caused by underlying conditions like PTSD, depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
Regression results in individuals behaving like their younger selves. Beyond behavior, these individuals truly believe that they are their younger selves, particularly in the case of involuntary regression.
You can seek therapy to identify age regression causes and triggers and learn better-coping mechanisms the same. Additionally, you must seek treatment for any underlying conditions that may be causing the regression.
Age regression is a phenomenon in which the brain reverts to a younger phase, often childhood. It can appear at any age but usually goes away on its own in children while often being an indicator of underlying mental health conditions or trauma in adults. Some individuals may also regress voluntarily as a coping mechanism to stress.
Furthermore, age regression therapy is used as a healing technique by some mental health professionals to treat unresolved trauma and its side effects. This therapy takes the individual back in time to address a traumatic situation.
However, some oppose it, claiming that it can lead to false memories and further anguish. When involuntary, age regression may be an indicator of underlying mental health conditions like PTSD, dementia, or schizophrenia. Therefore, you must visit a therapist to understand and tackle the root cause behind your symptoms and seek further treatment for underlying conditions if needed. By following this strategy, you can restore a healthy state of mind and improve your quality of life.