Advertisement

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 287–299 | Cite as

Stress Sensitization and Adolescent Depressive Severity as a Function of Childhood Adversity: A Link to Anxiety Disorders

  • Emmanuel P. EspejoEmail author
  • Constance L. Hammen
  • Nicole P. Connolly
  • Patricia A. Brennan
  • Jake M. Najman
  • William Bor
Original Paper

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to determine whether exposure to adversity in childhood contributes to a differential threshold at which stressful life events provoke depressive reactions in adolescence. In addition, to address empirical and conceptual questions about stress effects, the moderating effect of anxiety disorder history was also explored. This examination was conducted in a sample of 816 children of depressed and nondepressed mothers, who were followed from birth to age 15. Information on adversities experienced in childhood was collected both from mothers during the first five years of their youth’s life and from the youths themselves at age 15, and included information on the mother’s relationship with her partner, maternal psychopathology, as well as youth-reported abuse. Results indicated that youths with both greater exposure to adversity in childhood and a history of an anxiety disorder displayed increased depressive severity following low levels of episodic stress compared to youths with only one or neither of these risk factors. The results are speculated to reflect the possibility that early anxiety disorders associated with exposure to adversity in childhood may be a marker of dysregulated stress responses, and may help to account for the comorbidity of depression and anxiety in some individuals.

Keywords

Depression Anxiety Childhood adversity Stress 

References

  1. Afifi, A. A., & Clark, V. (1996). Computer-Aided Multivariate Analysis: 3rd Edition. Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  2. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple Regression: Testing and Interpreting Interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: 4th Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  4. Alnæs, R., & Torgerson, S. (1990). Parental representation in patients with major depression, anxiety disorder, and mixed conditions. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 81, 518–522.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. A. (1987). Manual for the Revised Beck Depression Inventory. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  7. Beck, A. T., Steer, R. A., & Garbin, M. G. (1988). Psychometric properties of the Beck Depression Inventory: Twenty-five years of evaluation. Clinical Psychology Review, 8, 77–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bedford, A., Foulds, G. A., & Sheffield, B. F. (1976). A new personal disturbance scale (DSSI/SAD). British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15, 387–394.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Brewin, C. R., Andrews, B., & Gotlib, I. H. (1993). Psychopathology and early experience: A reappraisal of retrospective reports. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 82–98.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, G. W., & Harris, T. O. (1978) Social Origins of depression. London: Free Press.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, G. W., & Harris, T. O. (1993) Aetiology of anxiety and depressive disorders in an inner-city population: I. Early adversity. Psychological Medicine, 23, 143–154.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chorpita, B. F. (2001). Control and the development of negative emotion. In M. W. Vasey, & M. R. Dadds (Eds.), The Developmental Psychopathology of Anxiety. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  13. Chorpita, B. F., & Barlow, D. H. (1998). The development of anxiety: The role of control in the early environment. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 3–21.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cohen, J., Cohen, P., West, S. G., & Aiken, L. S. (2003). Applied Multiple Regression/Correlation Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences: 3rd Edition. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  15. Cole, D. A., Peeke, L. G., Martin, J. M., Truglio, R., & Seroczynski, A. D. (1998). A longitudinal look at the relation between depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 66, 451–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. de Graaf, R., Bijl, R. V., ten Have, M., Beekman, A. T., & Vollebergh, W. A. (2004). Pathways to comorbidity: The transition of pure mood, anxiety and substance use disorders into comorbid conditions in a longitudinal population-based study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 82, 461–467.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Faravelli, C., Sacchetti, E., Ambonetti, A., Conte, G., Pallanti, S., & Vita, A. (1986) Early life events and affective disorder revisited. British Journal of Psychiatry, 148, 288–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. First, M. B., Spitzer, R. L., Gibbon, M., & Williams, J. B. W. (1995). Structured clinical interview for DSM-IV axis I disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gibb, B. E., Butler, A. C., & Beck, J. S. (2003). Childhood abuse, depression, and anxiety in adult psychiatric outpatients. Depression and Anxiety, 17, 226–228.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hammen, C. (1991). Depression runs in families: The social context of risk and resilience in children of depressed mothers. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  21. Hammen, C., Ellicott, A., Gitlin, M., & Jamison, K. R. (1989). Sociotropy/autonomy and vulnerability to specific life events in patients with unipolar depression and bipolar disorders. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 98, 154–160.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hammen, C., Henry, R., & Daley, S. E. (2000). Depression and sensitization to stressors among young women as a function of childhood adversity. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 68, 782–787.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hardt, J., & Rutter, M. (2004). Validity of adult retrospective reports of adverse childhood experiences: review of the evidence. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 45, 260–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harris, T., Brown, G. W., & Bifulco, A. (1986). Loss of parent in childhood and adult psychiatric disorder: The role of lack of adequate parental care. Psychological Medicine, 16, 641–659.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Heim, C., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2001) The role of childhood trauma in the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders: Preclinical and clinical studies. Biological Psychiatry, 49, 1023–1039.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hemenover, S. H. (2001). Self-reported processing bias and naturally occurring mood: Mediators between personality and stress appraisals. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 387–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Keeping, J. D., Najman, J. M., Morrison, J., Western, J. S., Andersen, M. J., & Williams, G. M. (1989). A prospective longitudinal study of social, psychological, and obstetrical factors in pregnancy: Response rates and demographic characteristics of the 8,556 respondents. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 96, 289–297.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Kendler, K. S., Sheth, K., Gardner, C. O., & Prescott, C. A. (2002). Childhood parental loss and risk for first-onset of major depression and alcohol dependence: The time-decay of risk and sex differences. Psychological Medicine, 32, 1187–1194.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kessler, R. C., Davis, C. G., & Kendler, K. S. (1997). Childhood adversity and adult psychiatric disorder in the US National Comorbidity Survey. Psychological Medicine, 27, 1101–1119.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kessler, R. C., & Magee, W. V. (1993). Childhood adversities and adult depression: Basic patterns of association in a US national survey. Psychological Medicine, 23, 679–690.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kilpatrick, D. G., Ruggiero, K. J., Acierno, R., Saunders, B. E., Resnick, H. S., & Best, C. V. (2003). Violence and risk of PTSD, major depression, substance abuse/dependence, and comorbidity: Results from the National Survey of Adolescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 692–700.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mancini, C., Van Ameringen, M., & MacMillan, H. (1995). Relationship of childhood sexual and physical abuse to anxiety disorders. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 183, 309–314.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marton, P., & Maharaj, S. (1993). Family factors in adolescent unipolar depression. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 38, 373–382.Google Scholar
  34. Mitchell, J., McCauley, E., Burke, P., Calderon, R., & Schloredt, K. (1989). Psychopathology in parents of depressed children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 28, 352–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Monroe, S. M., & Harkness, K. L. (2005). Life stress, the “kindling” hypothesis, and the recurrence of depression: Considerations from a life stress perspective. Psychological Review, 112, 417–445.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Girgus, J. S., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1992). Predictors and consequences of childhood depressive symptoms: A 5-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 101, 405–422.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Orvaschel, H. (1995). Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Epidemiologic Version—5. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Center for Psychological Studies, Nova Southeastern University.Google Scholar
  38. Pine, D. S., Cohen, P., Gurley, D., Brook, J., & Ma, Y. (1988). The risk for early-adulthood anxiety and depressive disorders in adolescents with anxiety and depressive disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 55, 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Phillips, N. K., Hammen, C. L., Brennan, P. A., Najman, J. M., & Bor, W. (2005). Early Adversity and the Prospective Prediction of Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in Adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 13–24PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Plantes, M. M., Prusoff, B. A., Brennan, J., & Parker, G. (1988). Parental representations of depressed outpatients from a U.S.A. sample. Journal of Affective Disorders, 15, 149–155.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Post, R. M. (1992). Transduction of psychosocial stress into the neurobiology of recurrent affective disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 999–1010.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Roy, A. (2002). Childhood trauma and neuroticism as an adult: Possible implication for the development of the common psychiatric disorders and suicidal behaviour. Psychological Medicine, 32, 1471–1474.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schneider, T. R. (2004). The role of neuroticism on psychological and physiological stress responses. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 795–804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M., Teasdale, J. D., & Gemar, M. (1996). A cognitive science perspective on kindling and episode sensitization in recurrent affective disorder. Psychological Medicine, 26, 371–380.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spanier, G. B. (1976). Measuring dyadic adjustment: New scales for assessing the quality of marriage and similar dyads. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 38, 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stein, M. B., Fuetsch, M., Müller, N., Höfler, M., Lieb, R., & Wittchen, H. (2001). Social anxiety disorder and the risk of depression: A prospective community study of adolescents and young adults. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 251–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using Multivariate Statistics: 4th Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  48. Young, E. A., Abelson, J. L., & Cameron, O. G. (2004). Effect of comorbid anxiety disorder on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis response to a social stressor in major depression. Biological Psychiatry, 56, 113–120.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanuel P. Espejo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Constance L. Hammen
    • 1
  • Nicole P. Connolly
    • 1
  • Patricia A. Brennan
    • 2
  • Jake M. Najman
    • 3
  • William Bor
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

Personalised recommendations