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Abuse, Neglect in Childhood Linked to Depression in Adulthood

MONDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who suffered abuse or neglect as children have a greatly increased risk of depression, new research finds.

Researchers analyzed 16 epidemiological studies involving more than 20,000 people and 10 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 people.

Childhood maltreatment was associated with a two-fold increased risk of both multiple and long-lasting depression, the analysis found. Survivors of abuse or neglect were also less likely to respond well to treatment for depression, including medication and counseling.

The research was led by a team at King's College London Institute of Psychiatry in the U.K. and will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"Identifying those at risk of multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes is crucial from a public health perspective. The results indicate that childhood maltreatment is associated both with an increased risk of developing recurrent and persistent episodes of depression, and with an increased risk of responding poorly to treatment," senior investigator Dr. Andrea Danese said in a King's College news release.

Maltreatment included physical, sexual or psychological abuse and neglect. Preventing abuse and helping kids in those situations may also help prevent depression later on, researchers said.

Previous research has shown that abuse survivors are more likely to have abnormalities in brain, endocrine and immune system response to stress.

For physicians, being aware of a patient's history of maltreatment may also be useful in determining their prognosis and making treatment decisions, researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.

SOURCE: King's College London, news release, Aug. 15, 2011

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