Adult vulnerability for psychiatric disorders: interactive effects of negative childhood experiences and recent stress.
The effects of negative childhood experiences on adult psychiatric status remain unclear because of inconsistent findings in previous studies. In this study, we examine the extent to which parental separation/divorce before the age of 10, parental death before the age of 10, and self-reports of parental mental illness during early childhood interact with recent stressful life events to increase the probability of multiple psychiatric disorders and psychiatric symptoms during adulthood. Data are from a stratified random sample of 3801 adults residing in a five-county catchment area in North Carolina. The Diagnostic Interview Schedule was used to measure psychiatric disorders and symptoms during the 6 months prior to the interview. Regression analyses were used to determine whether negative childhood experiences interact with recent stressful life events to increase the probability of psychiatric disorders or symptoms, with other risk factors statistically controlled. Results suggest that: a) parental mental illness increases the likelihood that stressful life events will result in depression, although it is unclear whether this increased vulnerability is due to genetic or environmental factors; b) parental separation/divorce interacts with stressful life events to increase vulnerability to alcohol problems and psychiatric disorders more generally; and c) parental death does not interact with recent events to affect the likelihood of psychiatric problems.
Landerman, R; George, LK; Blazer, DG
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