Childhood emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and diagnoses of depressive and anxiety disorders in adult psychiatric outpatients


  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.


Although a number of theorists have hypothesized a link between negative experiences during childhood (e.g., abuse) and the presence of psychopathology in adults, little is known about the relative specificity of childhood emotional, physical, or sexual abuse to different forms of psychopathology. In this study, we hypothesized that adult psychiatric outpatients' reports of childhood emotional abuse would exhibit a specific relationship with diagnoses of depression. Analyses partially supported our hypothesis. Specifically, diagnoses of major depression were significantly more strongly related to reports of childhood emotional abuse than to physical or sexual abuse. However, the same effect was observed for social phobia. In addition, patients with major depression reported equivalent levels of childhood emotional abuse as patients with social phobia, but lower levels of emotional abuse than those with posttraumatic stress disorder. Depression and Anxiety 24:256–263, 2007. Published 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.