Childhood Sexual Abuse and Depressive Symptom Severity: The Role of Neuroticism

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This study examined neuroticism's role in the association between childhood sexual abuse and severity of depressive symptoms in a sample of 105 psychiatric patients 50 years of age and older diagnosed with major depressive disorder. As hypothesized, men and women who reported histories of childhood sexual abuse had more severe depressive symptoms than those without abuse histories. Further, neuroticism partially accounted for the association between severe childhood sexual abuse and depressive symptom severity. Self-consciousness, a facet of neuroticism conceptually related to shame, also partially accounted for that relationship. These findings suggest that neuroticism may be one way in which childhood sexual abuse contributes to depressive symptoms in later life. Prospective studies are needed.

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