Study Disproves Popular Belief that Recommended Depression Treatments Are Inefficient for Those with Childhood Trauma

Study Disproves Popular Belief that Recommended Depression Treatments Are Inefficient for Those with Childhood Trauma
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New research published in The Lancet Psychiatry shows that receiving anti-depression treatment can be effective for those dealing with childhood trauma as well, contrary to popular belief.

The study concluded that patients with major depressive disorder who also have a history of childhood trauma could improve their mental health through psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy or through combination treatment of any kind.

It’s no secret that childhood trauma can be a major risk factor for developing depression later on in life, as an adult.

In fact, traumatic events in one’s early years often cause worse symptoms that are longer lasting and/or more frequent and even pose a higher morbidity risk.

The results are quite surprising since previous studies have shown that adults and teenagers that suffer from both childhood trauma and depression are about 1.5 times less likely to respond to psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and combination treatment or remit at some point.

Erika Kuzminskaite, the lead author, explains that “This study is the largest of its kind to look into the effectiveness of depression treatment for adults with childhood trauma and it is also the first to compare the effect of treatment with control condition (waitlist, placebo, or care as usual) for this population. Around 46 percent of adults with depression have a history of childhood trauma, and for chronic depression patients the prevalence is even higher. It’s therefore important to determine whether current treatment offered for major depressive disorder are effective for those with childhood trauma.”

The research team used data from no less than 29 different clinical trials of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy treatments for severe depression in grown-ups, encompassing a total of 6,830 patients.

Out of them, about 62 percent reported having gone through childhood trauma.

The severity of their depressive disorder was measured using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) or Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD).

In line with other older studies, those who had gone through childhood trauma had worse symptoms of depression when the treatment started, as opposed to those with no early trauma.

With that being said, they ended up reporting more depressive symptoms at the end of the treatment as well when compared to patients without childhood trauma history.

However, when it comes to symptom improvement, the results of the treatment were quite similar to the control group so it’s inaccurate to claim that recommended depression treatments are inefficient for those with childhood trauma.

Furthermore, treatment dropout rates were also similar to the ones registered by patients without childhood trauma.


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Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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