Childhood Abuse Linked to Lifelong Depression

This headline might seem like common sense or old news to some of you because we are aware that abuse is linked with depression. However, the results of a recent study study by Cathy Spatz Widom, Ph.D., then of the New Jersey Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, demonstrates that these effects can truly last a lifetime.

The study followed 676 children who had undergone physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect prior to age 11 and 520 non-abused, non-neglected children from childhood into young adulthood, with the average age at the end of the study being 28.7 years old. Study participants were monitored for major depressive disorder (MDD) and psychiatric illness over the course of the study.

“The current results show that childhood physical abuse was associated with increased risk for lifetime MDD,” the authors write. “We also provide new evidence that neglected children are at increased risk for depression as well.”

The results are compelling — the study found that:
– Children who had been abused had a 51% higher risk of current MDD as a young adult
– Children who had been neglected had a 59% higher risk of current MDD as a young adult
– Children who had been physically abused showed a 59% higher risk of lifetime MDD
– Children that suffered multiple types of abuse showed a 75% higher risk of lifetime MDD

“In addition, these findings reveal that onset of depression began in childhood for many of the children,” they write. “Our age-at-onset findings reinforce the need to intervene early in the lives of these abused and neglected children, before depression symptoms cascade into other spheres of functioning.”

This study suggests that EMDR practitioners can play a crucial role in not only alleviating a child’s current symptoms, but helping them to enjoy a happier, and better adjusted life. Now is the perfect time to get involved and help suffering children in your community!

For more information on the study, please visit “Child Abuse And Neglect Associated With Increased Risk Of Depression Among Young Adults” on

This entry was posted in Psychology News and tagged , , , , by EMDR. Bookmark the permalink.

About EMDR

The EMDR International Association (EMDRIA) is a professional association where EMDR practitioners and EMDR researchers seek the highest standards for the clinical use of EMDR. EMDR is an accepted psychotherapy by leading mental health organizations throughout the world for the treatment of a variety of symptoms and conditions. This website provides information to the greater EMDR community including clinicians, researchers, and the public that our members serve.

One thought on “Childhood Abuse Linked to Lifelong Depression

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