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Childhood Abuse Delays Recovery from Depression In Adults

Childhood Abuse Delays Recovery from Depression In AdultsEmerging research suggests remission from depression is slowed in adults who have experienced childhood physical abuse or parental addictions.

University of Toronto investigators examined a range of factors associated with remission in a sample of 1,128 depressed Canadian adults, drawn from the National Population Health Survey.

Depressed individuals were followed every other year until remission occurred, for up to 12 years.

“Our findings indicated that most people bounce back. In fact, three-quarters of individuals were no longer depressed after two years,” reported co-author Tahany M. Gadalla, Ph.D.

However, not everyone recovered at the same rate.

“Early adversities have far-reaching consequences. The average time to recovery from depression was 9 months longer for adults who had been physically abused during their childhood and about 5 months longer for those whose parents had addiction problems” said lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Ph.D.

“Numerous studies have shown that childhood abuse and parental addictions make individuals more vulnerable to depression,” said co-author and M.S.W. graduate Marla Battiston.

“Our research highlights that these factors also slow the recovery time among those who become depressed.”

Although this study could not determine why childhood adversities are associated with poor depression outcomes, the researchers speculate that negative experiences may interrupt the normal development of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, which affects stress regulation.

“In many studies, adult depression has been characterized by HPA axis hyperactivity,” said co-author and recent Ph.D. graduate, Sarah Brennenstuhl.

“This link is an important avenue for future research.”

The study is published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Source: University of Toronto


Scared boy being abused photo by shutterstock.

Childhood Abuse Delays Recovery from Depression In Adults

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Childhood Abuse Delays Recovery from Depression In Adults. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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