Childhood trauma and adult interpersonal relationship problems in patients with depression and anxiety disorders
Huh, HJ and Kim, S-Y and Yu, JJ and Chae, J-H, Childhood trauma and adult interpersonal relationship problems in patients with depression and anxiety disorders, Annals of General Psychiatry, 13, (26) Article 26. ISSN 1744-859X (2014) [Refereed Article]
Introduction: Although a plethora of studies have delineated the relationship between childhood trauma and onset,
symptom severity, and course of depression and anxiety disorders, there has been little evidence that childhood trauma
may lead to interpersonal problems among adult patients with depression and anxiety disorders. Given the lack of prior
research in this area, we aimed to investigate characteristics of interpersonal problems in adult patients who had
suffered various types of abuse and neglect in childhood.
Methods: A total of 325 outpatients diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders completed questionnaires on
socio-demographic variables, different forms of childhood trauma, and current interpersonal problems. The Childhood
Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) was used to measure five different forms of childhood trauma (emotional abuse, emotional
neglect, physical abuse, physical neglect, and sexual abuse) and the short form of the Korean-Inventory of Interpersonal
Problems Circumplex Scale (KIIP-SC) was used to assess current interpersonal problems. We dichotomized patients into
two groups (abused and non-abused groups) based on CTQ score and investigated the relationship of five different
types of childhood trauma and interpersonal problems in adult patients with depression and anxiety disorders using
multiple regression analysis.
Result: Different types of childhood abuse and neglect appeared to have a significant influence on distinct symptom
dimensions such as depression, state-trait anxiety, and anxiety sensitivity. In the final regression model, emotional abuse,
emotional neglect, and sexual abuse during childhood were significantly associated with general interpersonal distress
and several specific areas of interpersonal problems in adulthood. No association was found between childhood physical
neglect and current general interpersonal distress.
Conclusion: Childhood emotional trauma has more influence on interpersonal problems in adult patients with
depression and anxiety disorders than childhood physical trauma. A history of childhood physical abuse is related to
dominant interpersonal patterns rather than submissive interpersonal patterns in adulthood. These findings provide
preliminary evidence that childhood trauma might substantially contribute to interpersonal problems in adulthood.