As part of the international Study to Predict Optimized Treatment for Depression (iSPOT-D) involving over one thousand individuals who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). research was undertaken to compare the prevalence of histories of early childhood trauma in this group with the same prevalence in a group of ‘healthy’ controls (this latter group was comprised of 336 matched individuals).
Depressed individuals more likely to have suffered early-life stress (see below)
When the two groups were compared, it was found that :
- In the group of individuals who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), 62.5% had suffered more than two traumatic events before the age of 18.
- In the group of ‘healthy’ individuals, 28.4% had suffered more than two traumatic events before the age of 18.
(The number of traumatic events each individual was determined to have suffered before the age of 18 was defined with reference to Early-Life Stress Questionnaire.)
Another part of the study examined how the individuals suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) responded to antidepressant treatment (the treatment period was eight weeks and individuals were treated with one of three antidepressants : escitalopram, sertraline or venlafaxine).
It was found that individuals who had histories of abuse (physical, sexual or emotional), particularly if this abuse occurred before the age of 7 years, had an impaired response to all three (see above) antidepressants used in the study.
Those individuals who had suffered abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) between the ages of 4 years and 7 years and were treated with sertraline (see above) had the poorest of all response to the treatment.
This study suggests that individuals who have suffered significant levels of early-life stress may be less likely to respond positively to treatment with antidepressants than those who have not. However, further research is necessary to cast more light upon this apparently inverted relationship between the two variables.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).
NB : The above is for information only. Always consult an appropriately qualified professional when making decisions relating to medication.
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