Recollections of Emotional Abuse and Neglect in Childhood as Risk Factors for Depressive Disorders and the Need for Psychotherapy in Adult Life

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Abstract

Theoretical and empirical works have pointed out that depression comes along with adverse interpersonal experiences in childhood and adult life. The purpose of this study was to explore whether past and current experiences differ in their relevance for depression. A clinical group of 80 psychotherapy patients diagnosed with a depressive disorder was contrasted with a control group of 111 nondepressed patients from somatic facilities. Child abuse, neglect, and adult attachment dimensions were measured with self-report scales. Depression was correlated with emotional abuse, neglect, and attachment anxiety. However, solely emotional abuse and neglect significantly predicted the probability to be in the group of depressed patients, whereas attachment anxiety did not contribute to this prediction. The findings reveal that childhood variables, namely, recollections of emotional traumas, are more closely associated with depression than representations of adult attachment bonds and therefore need special attention in the psychotherapeutic treatment of depressive disorders.

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