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Childhood maltreatment and adult medical morbidity in mood disorders: comparison of unipolar depression with bipolar disorder

  • Georgina M. Hosang (a1), Helen L. Fisher (a2), Karen Hodgson (a3), Barbara Maughan (a4) and Anne E. Farmer (a5)...

Abstract

Background

The medical burden in mood disorders is high; various factors are thought to drive this pattern. Little research has examined the role of childhood maltreatment and its effects on medical morbidity in adulthood among people with unipolar depression and bipolar disorder.

Aims

This is the first study to explore the association between childhood maltreatment and medical morbidity in bipolar disorder and in unipolar depression, and examine whether the impact of abuse and neglect are distinct or combined.

Method

The participants consisted of 354 psychiatrically healthy controls, 248 participants with recurrent unipolar depression and 72 with bipolar disorder. Participants completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and received a validated medical history interview.

Results

Any type of childhood maltreatment, child abuse and child neglect were significantly associated with the medical burden in bipolar disorder, but not unipolar depression or for controls. These associations worked in a dose–response fashion where participants with bipolar disorder with a history of two or more types of childhood maltreatment had the highest odds of having a medical illness relative to those without such history or those who reported one form. No such significant dose–response patterns were detected for participants with unipolar depression or controls.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that childhood maltreatment may play a stronger role in the development of medical illnesses in individuals with bipolar disorder relative to those with unipolar depression. Individuals who had been maltreated with a mood disorder, especially bipolar disorder may benefit most from prevention and intervention efforts surrounding physical health.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Georgina M. Hosang, Centre for Psychiatry, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, Old Anatomy Building, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ, UK. Email: g.hosang@qmul.ac.uk

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Childhood maltreatment and adult medical morbidity in mood disorders: comparison of unipolar depression with bipolar disorder

  • Georgina M. Hosang (a1), Helen L. Fisher (a2), Karen Hodgson (a3), Barbara Maughan (a4) and Anne E. Farmer (a5)...
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