The protective role of friendship on the effects of childhood abuse and depression

Abigail Powers, Kerry J Ressler, Rebekah G Bradley
Depression and Anxiety 2009, 26 (1): 46-53

BACKGROUND: This study explored the relationships between childhood maltreatment (sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect), adult depression, and perceived social support from family and friends.

METHODS: As part of an NIH-funded study of risk and resilience at a public urban hospital in Atlanta, 378 men and women recruited from the primary care and obstetrics gynecology clinic waiting areas answered questions about developmental history, traumatic experiences, current relationship support, and depressive symptoms.

RESULTS: Childhood emotional abuse and neglect proved more predictive of adult depression than childhood sexual or physical abuse. In females only, perceived friend social support protected against adult depression even after accounting for the contributions of both emotional abuse and neglect.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings may elucidate the particular importance of understanding the effects that emotional abuse and neglect have on adult depression, and how perceived friendship support may provide a buffer for women with a history of early life stress who are at risk to develop adult depression.

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