Although it may seem easy to conclude that a troubled childhood and experience of abuse can lead to psychological problems for adults, it is a very difficult phenomenon to study. Today, Reuters had a story covering a new study that makes this link more clear, concluding that physical abuse can lead to depression.

Physically abused children have a 59 percent increased risk of lifetime major depression compared with similar children who were not abused, said the study in this month’s issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Earlier studies had linked childhood abuse with serious depression but researchers said this study is the first to show that depression is a consequence of the abuse.

The most important thing that studies like this contribute is major evidence that depression and other disorders are not necessarily “biologically based conditions” that develop without rhyme or reason, but that they often arise from significant life stress. This also provides the foundation for psychotherapy being an effective treatment since working through painful events and negative messages during childhood can reduce symptoms from a variety of mental disorders and produce long term relief.