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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Psychiatry 1/2017

Childhood neglect predicts the course of major depression in a tertiary care sample: a follow-up study

BMC Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2017
Sabrina Paterniti, Irit Sterner, Christine Caldwell, Jean-Claude Bisserbe



The course of depression is poorer in clinical settings than in the general population. Several predictors have been studied and there is growing evidence that a history of childhood maltreatment consistently predicts a poorer course of depression.


Between 2008 and 2012, we assessed 238 individuals suffering from a current episode of major depression. Fifty percent of these (N = 119) participated in a follow-up study conducted between 2012 and 2014 that assessed sociodemographic and clinical variables, the history of childhood abuse and neglect (using the Adverse Childhood Experience questionnaire), and the course of depression between baseline and follow-up interview (using the Life Chart method). The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR was used to assess diagnosis at baseline and follow-up interview. Statistical analyses used the life table survival method and Cox proportional hazard regression tests.


Among 119 participants, 45.4% did not recover or remit during the follow-up period. The median time to remission or recovery was 28.9 months and the median time to the first recurrence was 25.7 months. Not being married, a chronic index depressive episode, comorbidity with an anxiety disorder, and a childhood history of physical neglect independently predicted a slower time to remission or recovery. The presence of three or more previous depression episodes and a childhood history of emotional neglect were independent predictors of depressive recurrences.


Childhood emotional and physical neglect predict a less favorable course of depression. The effect of childhood neglect on the course of depression was independent of sociodemographic and clinical variables.
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