Childhood Trama Makes Depression Last Longer in Adults

Every year in the U.S., over 66,000 children are physically abused, almost 10% of them sexually. Over 1,500 of them died, in 2010. And almost 80% were under 4.

Now experts say that, while a person who suffers the normal ups and downs of life usually gets his bounce back within two years, the time it takes someone who's been abused?  A lot longer. reports that, in a recent study of adults followed for 12 years, three-quarters of those who experienced trauma or hardship as adults recovered from depression within 18 months to two years. 

But those who suffered them earlier in life were not as resilient.

“Early adversities have far-reaching consequences. The average time to recovery from depression was 9 months longer for adults who had been physically abused during their childhood and about 5 months longer for those whose parents had addiction problems,” says lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair in the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at

“Numerous studies have shown that childhood abuse and parental addictions make individuals more vulnerable to depression,” adds co-author and MSW graduate Marla Battiston. “Our research highlights that these factors also slow the recovery time among those who become depressed.”

The Web site notes that researchers speculate that negative experiences may interrupt the normal development of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which affects stress regulation. 

It makes sense.  And the stats are scary.  One in five girls and one in 20 boys are sexually abused every year in the U.S.  Twenty percent of adult women say they were sexually abused and five to 10% of men (though much goes unreported). 

Sadly,five children die every day of abuse and neglect in this country.  But of those who survive, the legacy may be almost as bad.


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