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Childhood trauma, personality disorders symptoms and current major depressive disorder in Togo

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Childhood trauma (CT) has been found to be associated with major depressive disorder (MDD) and personality disorders (PD) in adulthood in Western countries, but little is known about the relationship between CT, PD and MDD in sub-Saharan Africa. The present study aims to examine: (1) the frequency of the CT, (2) the association between CT, PD symptoms and MDD and (3) the mediating role of PD between CT and MDD in Togo.


One hundred and eighty-one participants (91 individuals with current MDD and 90 healthy controls without psychiatric history) completed the 28-item CT Questionnaire (CTQ) and the Personality Diagnostic Questionnaire (PDQ-4+).


Participants in the MDD group reported more frequently emotional, sexual and physical abuse and emotional and physical neglect than controls (p < 0.001). There was a significant positive correlation between the total abuse and the PDQ-4 + score (r = 0.48, p < 0.01) in the total sample. Emotional and sexual abuses were associated with current MDD and the number of PD criteria endorsed. Furthermore, PD symptoms mediated partially the relationship between CT and current MDD.


Our results suggest an association between CT and current MDD in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa, and that this relationship may be explained by PD symptoms. Prospective studies to confirm these results are warranted.

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K. B. Kounou has received a Ph.D. Grant from “Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie” within the Framework of this research. E. Bui was supported by a fellowship from the CHU de Toulouse. We thank Emefa Kwadzo for her translation assistance.

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Correspondence to Eric Bui.

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Kounou, K.B., Bui, E., Dassa, K.S. et al. Childhood trauma, personality disorders symptoms and current major depressive disorder in Togo. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 48, 1095–1103 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-012-0634-2

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  • Childhood trauma
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Togo