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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Childhood maltreatment is associated with depression but not with hypochondriasis in later life

Josef Bailer, Michael Witthöft, Henriette Wagner, Daniela Mier, Carsten Diener, Fred Rist
Journal of Psychosomatic Research 2014, 77 (2): 104-8
25077850

OBJECTIVE: Previous studies demonstrated that a history of childhood trauma is linked to mental disorders in adulthood, particularly to depression. Adverse childhood experiences are also considered to contribute to the risk of hypochondriasis, but the results of previous studies have not been conclusive with respect to the strength and specificity of this association. Therefore, we compared the association of adverse childhood experiences with both hypochondriasis and depression.

METHODS: Fifty-eight patients with hypochondriasis, 52 patients with depression, and 52 healthy control participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) which assesses 5 varieties of abuse and neglect. A clinical interview (SCID-I) was used to establish DSM-IV diagnoses. Associations between childhood maltreatment, hypochondriasis and depression were estimated by means of analyses of variance and multiple linear regression analyses.

RESULTS: In comparison to hypochondriacal and healthy participants, patients with a current depressive disorder reported more emotional abuse as well as more emotional and physical neglect during childhood. Patients with hypochondriasis reported more emotional neglect than healthy individuals. However, when predicting the CTQ trauma types by diagnostic category adjusting for sex and comorbid DSM-IV diagnoses, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical abuse, physical neglect, as well as the CTQ total score were significantly associated with depression, but none of the CTQ scores was significantly related to hypochondriasis.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest a robust association of childhood maltreatment with depression but not with hypochondriasis. This result does not support etiological models of hypochondriasis which rely on childhood maltreatment as a risk factor for the development of this disorder.

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