Psychiatric Briefs

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Background: Although depression during adulthood has been linked to both sexual abuse and poor parental care during childhood, data on the possible differences in the way these 2 childhood variables relate to adult depression are sparse. This study compared the relationship of child sexual abuse (CSA) and poor parental care to adult depression by measuring their effects and that of a third variable—intimate love relationships—on adult depression. Method: One hundred ninety-eight women aged 25 to 36 years from 5 primary care practices in Wirral, England, were interviewed for assessment of childhood experiences (using the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse interview), quality of love relationships (using the Adult Personality Functioning Assessment), and presence of depression during adulthood (using the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia adapted to reflect DSM-IV criteria and Research Diagnostic Criteria). Results: Both CSA and poor parental care were both independently associated with DSM-IV depression and poor love relationships between the ages of 21 and 30 years, and poor love relationships were associated with depression during the same age period. Poor love relationships had a large impact on risk of depression in women with poor parental care during childhood, but did not affect risk of depression in women with CSA. Conclusions: Different mechanisms may exist behind adult depression following CSA and adult depression stemming from poor parental care.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2001;3(4):183-186