I have written extensively about the link between childhood trauma and the development of psychiatric problems extensively on this site already.
In this article, I will outline the findings of a study conducted in 2018 which serves to confirm this association.
The study I refer to was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The authors of the study considered the association between childhood trauma and mental illness to be so severe as to justify declaring the adverse effects of childhood trauma to be a public health crisis.
The researchers summarized the findings of their study as demonstrating that ‘cumulative childhood trauma was associated with higher rates of adult psychiatric disorders and poorer functional outcomes.’
RESULTS OF THE STUDY :
The study found that those participants who had been exposed to significantly traumatic events in childhood were, on average, 1.5 times more likely to suffer from psychiatric illness than those who had suffered no exposure to significant childhood trauma. A more detailed breakdown of the findings of the study is presented below :
When compared with those who had experienced no significant childhood trauma, those who had experienced exposure to childhood trauma were, on average :
1.4 times more likely to suffer an anxiety disorder.
1.7 times more likely to suffer from a depressive disorder.
1.2 times more likely to suffer from ADHD.
1.5 times more likely to suffer from oppositional defiant disorder.
1.8 times more likely to suffer from conduct disorder.
1.3 times more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorder.
Furthermore, they were :
1.3 times more likely to live in a household of low socioeconomic status.
1.5 times more likely to live within an unstable household.
1.5 times more likely to live within a dysfunctional family.
1.4 times more likely to be bullied by peers.
There was also an association between the experiencing of childhood trauma and the later development of adult psychiatric problems; these results were as follows :
Those who had experienced childhood trauma were, on average, when compared with those who had not experienced significant childhood trauma :
1.3 times more likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
1.2 times more likely to suffer from a depressive disorder
1.2 times more likely to suffer from a substance disorder.
Whilst the researchers concluded that their study had many strong points, they also drew attention to a few caveats, including using a sample of individuals who were not wholly representative of the U.S.A. (American Indians and individuals from rural areas were over-represented) and also the study’s reliance upon some self-reporting of traumatic experience which was difficult to verify in terms of complete accuracy.
For more information relevant to the content of the above article, you may also wish to read about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, the seminal study showing the association between childhood trauma and damaged physical and mental health in later life.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).