Maladaptive coping mediates the influence of childhood trauma on depression and PTSD among pregnant women in South Africa.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Antenatal mental disorders compromise maternal and child health, and women who have experienced childhood trauma may be at increased risk for such disorders. One hypothesis is that early trauma leads to the development and use of maladaptive coping strategies as an adult, which in turn could predict mental health difficulties during stressful transitions such as pregnancy. To test this hypothesis, this study examined the relationship between childhood trauma and mental health (depression, PTSD) in a sample of 84 pregnant women seeking antenatal care in Cape Town, South Africa, and explored whether maladaptive coping mediated this relationship. The majority of women (62 %) met established criteria for antenatal depression and 30 % for antenatal PTSD; in addition, 40 % reported a history of childhood trauma. Childhood trauma, especially childhood sexual abuse and emotional abuse, was significantly associated with depression and PTSD. The relationships between childhood trauma and depression and PTSD were significantly mediated by maladaptive coping, even when adjusted for the woman's age, gestational age, and HIV status. Findings highlight the need for coping-based interventions to prevent and treat antenatal mental disorders among women with childhood trauma, particularly in high-trauma settings such as South Africa.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Choi, KW; Sikkema, KJ; Velloza, J; Marais, A; Jose, C; Stein, DJ; Watt, MH; Joska, JA

Published Date

  • October 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 18 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 731 - 738

PubMed ID

  • 25578632

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25578632

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1435-1102

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1434-1816

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00737-015-0501-8


  • eng