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Psychotic Depression, Schizophrenia And Childhood Trauma Sub-Types

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

childhood trauma, schizophrenia and psychotic depression

Sub-Types Of Childhood Trauma :

As we have seen from other articles I have published on this site, childhood trauma can be split into 4 main sub-types : emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect.

In this article, I briefly describe some of the main research findings in regard to the association between childhood trauma and risk of suffering from psychosis as an adult.

More specifically, I will examine which specific sub-types of childhood trauma may particularly increase an individual’s risk of developing psychosis as an adult, and if specific sub-types of childhood trauma are linked to increased risk of developing specific types of psychotic disorder as an adult and, if so, which specific types of psychotic disorder.

Study That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Psychotic Depression :

A study carried out by Read et al. found that those individuals who had suffered from childhood trauma were more likely to have suffered from psychotic depression as adults. (Psychotic depression is similar to ‘ordinary’ major depression only there are additional symptoms of a psychotic nature – delusions, hallucinations and psychomotor agitation or psychomotor retardation).

More specifically, those who had experienced physical abuse or sexual abuse were found to have been particularly likely to have developed a psychotic depression later in life. (Of those in the study who had suffered from psychotic depression as adults, 59% had suffered physical abuse as children and 63% had suffered sexual abuse.)

childhood trauma, schizophrenia, psychotic depression

Studies That Suggests Link Between Childhood Trauma And The Later Development Of Schizophrenia :

A study (Compton et al) found that of those who had been sexually abused as children and of those who had been physically abused as children, 50% and 61% respectively developed schizophrenia-spectrum disorders later in life.

Another study (Rubins et al) found evidence suggesting that whilst sexual abuse in childhood is associated with the later development of depression and schizophrenia, physical abuse during childhood is associated with the later development of schizophrenia’ alone.

Finally, a study by Spence et al found that both physical and sexual abuse were associated with the later development of schizophrenia and, of these two associations, the association between physical abuse and the later development of schizophrenia was the strongest.

Type Of Psychotic Symptoms :

Studies (e.g. Read, 2008) that have focused on the specific psychotic symptoms suffered by those who develop a psychotic illness AND have a history of childhood trauma have found that the most common are AUDITORY HALLUCINATIONS and PARANOIA.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSC; PGDE(FAHE)

Schizophrenia: Study Reveals Those Traumatized In Childhood Up To Fifty Times More Likely To Develop It

effects_of_childhood_trauma_ptsf

Does Childhood Trauma Cause Schizophrenia?

I remember when I was doing my first degree in psychology at the University of London that, when we studied schizophrenia, in trying to explain its causes we concentrated largely upon examining genetic explanations and, also, explanations based upon the existence of individual differences in brain chemistry and brain biology.

More recently, however, evidence has been accumulating that if an individual suffers childhood trauma then this, too, puts him/ her at greater risk of developing this most debilitating of psychiatric conditions.

Indeed, a study at the University of Liverpool and Maastricht in the Netherlands lends support to this theory. The study looked at data from three groups of people

a) individuals who were known to have suffered childhood trauma who were followed up in their adult lives (the study was what is known as longitudinal and examined 30 years’ worth of data)

b) psychotic individuals who were asked about their childhoods

c) randomly selected individuals (data obtained from this third group served as a comparison point against which to interpret the data generated from the above two groups). This is also known as the control group.

THE FINDINGS OBTAINED FROM THE STUDY:

– those who had suffered childhood trauma prior to the age of 16 were 3 times more likely to develop psychosis in adulthood than were the individuals from the group of randomly selected individuals (group ‘c’ above)

– the more serious the individuals’ experiences of childhood trauma were, the more likely they were to develop psychosis later on during their lives

– those who had suffered the most serious types of trauma were found to be up to 50 times more likely to go on to develop schizophrenia than individuals who had been randomly selected for the study

– different kinds of trauma resulted in the development of different types of psychiatric symptoms.  For example, those individuals who had spent significant amounts of time in children’s homes were particularly likely to develop symptoms of paranoia later on during their lives

IMPLICATIONS:

In the light of these findings, they expert Professor Bengal stressed the importance that those who were responsible for diagnosing psychiatric patients should ask them about their childhood experiences as a matter of routine.

Effects_of child_trauma_on_brain_and_psychosis_and_scizophrenia

Above: Differences in the brains of schizophrenics.

Professor Bengal also drew attention to the need for further research into the effects of childhood experiences on the physical developing brain ( click here to view details of my book on this) and also into genetic factors that may help to explain why some individuals are more resilient to the adverse effects of childhood trauma than others.

Finally, he called for further research into why symptoms of trauma often do not appear in an individual until years after the traumatic experiences have taken place. For example, a person who suffered childhood trauma between the ages of , say, eight and twelve, may not display overt psychiatric symptoms caused by it until his/her twenties.

child_trauma_and_NEUROPLASTICITY, functional_and_structural_ neuroplasticity

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).