Childhood trauma increases the risk of mental disorders in adulthood, says study

15 December 2022
Nikitha Warriar Written by Nikitha Warriar
Nikitha Warriar

Nikitha Warriar

Nikitha Warriar writes a lot on healthcare and wellness. She is also one of LifeWordsmith’s...

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by Madan Thapa
Madan Thapa

Madan Thapa

Madan S Thapa is a healthcare consultant and also a seasoned pharma editor, with over 10+ years...

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Knowing an adult’s history and childhood is essential to understanding their mental disorder. In a recent study by researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, also published in the journal “European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience,” it was revealed that childhood psychological trauma increases the risk of mental disorders after a few years.

The researchers analyzed databases from inception until 01/05/2021 from leading publications, comprising 16,277 cases. This study is considered to be the strongest evidence of a direct link between childhood trauma and mental disorder in adulthood.

That’s why Bridget Hogg, one of the lead authors of the study, said to Neuroscience News, “It is necessary to guide the patient through their life history, to really review what has happened to them. Currently, we question what isn’t working, but not what has happened in their life, because this requires opening up potentially painful subjects, and it is avoided.”

According to their analysis, physical and sexual abuse during childhood was significantly linked to a lot of mental disorders in adulthood. Childhood trauma increases the risks for psychosis, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Also, those affected by it were 15 times more likely to suffer from borderline personality disorder. Anxiety was the most prevalent disorder reported among those who experienced emotional abuse as children. 

While the most common childhood traumas are emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, bullying, and emotional or physical neglect, the study highlights the fact that catastrophes, violent deaths, or family abuse can also cause mental disorders in the future.

Highlighting the importance of preventing and spreading awareness about early traumatic events,  Dr. Benedikt Amann, another lead author of the study, added, We must treat psychological trauma in our patients, but we also have to take action in the political and social spheres and invest more in prevention. For example, by educating families and setting up programs to prevent bullying, which is a very important risk factor in terms of suffering a mental disorder, both for those who receive it and for those who perpetrate it.”

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