Recovery From Depression Slow in Adults Who were Abused as Kids

First Posted: Jan 11, 2014 08:12 AM EST

A team of researchers at the University of Toronto have found that recovery from depression is much slower in adults who were abused in their childhood or were raised by parents suffering from addiction.

The study highlights the impact of early adversities. Recovery from depression takes an average of 9 months longer for adults who were physically abused during as kids and about 5 months longer in those who were raised by parents with addiction problems.

 For the study, researchers examined the risk factors in a sample of 1,128 depressed Canadian adults who were a part of the National Population Health Survey. The depressed subjects who were part of the survey were followed every other year until some recovery took place, which was about 12 years on average.

"Our findings indicated that most people bounce back. In fact, three-quarters of individuals were no longer depressed after two years," reported co-author and Professor Emeriti Tahany M. Gadalla. They noticed that not all subjects showed the same recovery rate.

Co-author and MSW graduate Marla Battiston explains that studies conducted in the past have highlighted the fact that childhood abuse-physical violence as well as parental addiction- makes individuals more susceptible to suffer from depression. This study cautions that these factors also contribute to slow recovery time among those who are suffering from depression.

After the analysis, the researchers failed to determine the exact cause of why these childhood adversities are linked with poor depression outcomes.  However, researchers assume that the negative experience hinders the normal development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which has an impact on the regulation of stress.

"In many studies, adult depression has been characterized by HPA axis hyperactivity," says co-author and recent PhD graduate, Sarah Brennenstuhl. "This link is an important avenue for future research."

The study was published in journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

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