CONTEXT: Although significant associations of childhood adversities (CAs) with adult mental disorders have been documented consistently in epidemiological surveys, these studies generally have examined only 1 CA per study. Because CAs are highly clustered, this approach results in overestimating the importance of individual CAs. Multivariate CA studies have been based on insufficiently complex models. OBJECTIVE: To examine the joint associations of 12 retrospectively reported CAs with the first onset of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication using substantively complex multivariate models. DESIGN: Cross-sectional community survey with retrospective reports of CAs and lifetime DSM-IV disorders. SETTING: Household population in the United States. PARTICIPANTS: Nationally representative sample of 9282 adults. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Lifetime prevalences of 20 DSM-IV anxiety, mood, disruptive behavior, and substance use disorders assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. RESULTS: The CAs studied were highly prevalent and intercorrelated. The CAs in a maladaptive family functioning (MFF) cluster (parental mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and criminality; family violence; physical abuse; sexual abuse; and neglect) were the strongest correlates of disorder onset. The best-fitting model included terms for each type of CA, number of MFF CAs, and number of other CAs. Multiple MFF CAs had significant subadditive associations with disorder onset. Little specificity was found for particular CAs with particular disorders. Associations declined in magnitude with life course stage and number of previous lifetime disorders but increased with length of recall. Simulations suggest that CAs are associated with 44.6% of all childhood-onset disorders and with 25.9% to 32.0% of later-onset disorders. CONCLUSIONS: The fact that associations increased with length of recall raises the possibility of recall bias inflating estimates. Even considering this, the results suggest that CAs have powerful and often subadditive associations with the onset of many types of largely primary mental disorders throughout the life course.
BACKGROUND: Although significant associations of childhood adversities with adult mental disorders are widely documented, most studies focus on single childhood adversities predicting single disorders. AIMS: To examine joint associations of 12 childhood adversities with first onset of 20 DSM-IV disorders in World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys in 21 countries. METHOD: Nationally or regionally representative surveys of 51 945 adults assessed childhood adversities and lifetime DSM-IV disorders with the WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). RESULTS: Childhood adversities were highly prevalent and interrelated. Childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning (e.g. parental mental illness, child abuse, neglect) were the strongest predictors of disorders. Co-occurring childhood adversities associated with maladaptive family functioning had significant subadditive predictive associations and little specificity across disorders. Childhood adversities account for 29.8% of all disorders across countries. CONCLUSIONS: Childhood adversities have strong associations with all classes of disorders at all life-course stages in all groups of WMH countries. Long-term associations imply the existence of as-yet undetermined mediators.
BACKGROUND: Adverse child environments are associated with the onset of mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood. The mechanisms underlying these life-course associations remain poorly understood. We investigate whether emotional reactivity to stress is a mechanism in the association between childhood environment characteristics and adult mood and anxiety disorders. METHODS: Data are from the Study of Adult Development, a longitudinal study of men (N = 268) followed for nearly seven decades beginning in late adolescence. Childhood social environment characteristics were assessed during home visits and interviews with respondents' parents at entry into the study. Stress reactivity was assessed during respondents' sophomore year of college via physician exam. Onset of mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood was ascertained by research psychiatrists who completed chart reviews of interview, questionnaire, and physical exam data collected during repeated assessments from age 20 to 70. RESULTS: Respondents with better overall childhood environments and a greater number of environmental strengths were at lower odds of developing a mood or anxiety disorder in adulthood than respondents with more adverse childhood environments. Higher stress reactivity was observed among respondents from families with lower socio-economic status and with childhood environments characterized by greater conflict and adversity. Elevated stress reactivity, in turn, predicted the onset of adult mood and anxiety disorders. CONCLUSION: Heightened emotional reactivity in early adulthood is associated with both adverse childhood environments and elevated risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood. Emotional reactivity may be one mechanism linking childhood adversity to mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood.
BACKGROUND: Children raised in institutional settings are exposed to social and environmental circumstances that may deprive them of expected environmental inputs during sensitive periods of brain development that are necessary to foster healthy development. This deprivation is thought to underlie the abnormalities in neurodevelopment that have been found in previously institutionalized children. It is unknown whether deviations in neurodevelopment explain the high rates of developmental problems evident in previously institutionalized children, including psychiatric disorders. METHODS: We present data from a sample of children raised in institutions in Bucharest, Romania (n = 117) and an age- and sex-matched sample of community control subjects (n = 49). Electroencephalogram data were acquired following entry into the study at age 6 to 30 months, and a structured diagnostic interview of psychiatric disorders was completed at age 54 months. RESULTS: Children reared in institutions evidenced greater symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and disruptive behavior disorders than community controls. Electroencephalogram revealed significant reductions in alpha relative power and increases in theta relative power among children reared in institutions in frontal, temporal, and occipital regions, suggesting a delay in cortical maturation. This pattern of brain activity predicted symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity at age 54 months, and significantly mediated the association between institutionalization and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Electroencephalogram power was unrelated to depression, anxiety, or disruptive behaviors. CONCLUSIONS: These findings document a potential neurodevelopmental mechanism underlying the association between institutionalization and psychiatric morbidity. Deprivation in social and environmental conditions may perturb early patterns of neurodevelopment and manifest as psychiatric problems later in life.
This study examined the Response Styles Theory in a large, racially and ethnically diverse sample (N = 722) of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. We examined the role of response styles (rumination, distraction, and problem-solving) as predictors of changes in depressive symptoms over a seven-month period. Higher levels of rumination and lower levels of problem-solving and distraction were associated with increases in depressive symptoms over time. Response style ratio scores (rumination scores divided by the sum of distraction and problem-solving scores) also predicted increases in depressive symptoms over time. Girls reported greater depressive symptoms compared to boys, and both rumination and response style ratio score statistically accounted for the gender difference in depressive symptoms. Clinical implications include the importance of problem-solving training and rumination reduction techniques in preventive interventions.
OBJECTIVES: We examined associations between perceived discrimination due to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender; responses to discrimination experiences; and psychiatric disorders. METHODS: The sample included respondents in the 2004-2005 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (n = 34 653). We analyzed the associations between self-reported past-year discrimination and past-year psychiatric disorders as assessed with structured diagnostic interviews among Black (n = 6587); Hispanic (n = 6359); lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB; n = 577); and female (n = 20 089) respondents. RESULTS: Black respondents reported the highest levels of past-year discrimination, followed by LGB, Hispanic, and female respondents. Across groups, discrimination was associated with 12-month mood (odds ratio [ORs] = 2.1-3.1), anxiety (ORs = 1.8-3.3), and substance use (ORs = 1.6-3.5) disorders. Respondents who reported not accepting discrimination and not discussing it with others had higher odds of psychiatric disorders (ORs = 2.9-3.9) than did those who did not accept discrimination but did discuss it with others. Black respondents and women who accepted discrimination and did not talk about it with others had elevated rates of mood and anxiety disorders, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric disorders are more prevalent among individuals reporting past-year discrimination experiences. Certain responses to discrimination, particularly not disclosing it, are associated with psychiatric morbidity.
OBJECTIVE: To examine patterns and predictors of trends in DSM-IV serious emotional disturbance (SED) among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina. METHOD: A probability sample of adult pre-hurricane residents of the areas affected by Katrina completed baseline and follow-up telephone surveys 18 to 27 months post-hurricane and 12 to 18 months later. Baseline adult respondents residing with children and adolescents (4-17 years of age) provided informant reports about the emotional functioning of these youths (n = 576) with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The surveys also assessed hurricane-related stressors and ongoing stressors experienced by respondent families. RESULTS: SED prevalence decreased significantly across survey waves from 15.1% to 11.5%, although even the latter prevalence was considerably higher than the pre-hurricane prevalence of 4.2% estimated in the US National Health Interview Survey. Trends in hurricane-related SED were predicted by both stressors experienced in the hurricane and ongoing stressors, with SED prevalence decreasing significantly only among youths with moderate stress exposure (16.8% versus 6.5%). SED prevalence did not change significantly between waves among youths with either high stress exposure (30.0% versus 41.9%) or low stress exposure (3.5% versus 3.4%). Pre-hurricane functioning did not predict SED persistence among youths with high stress exposure, but did predict SED persistence among youth with low-moderate stress exposure. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of SED among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina remains significantly elevated several years after the storm despite meaningful decrease since baseline. Youths with high stress exposure have the highest risk of long-term hurricane-related SED and consequently represent an important target for mental health intervention.
Peer victimization experiences represent developmentally salient stressors among adolescents and are associated with the development of internalizing symptoms. However, the mechanisms linking peer victimization to adolescent psychopathology remain inadequately understood. This study examined emotion dysregulation as a mechanism linking peer stress to changes in internalizing symptoms among adolescents in a longitudinal design. Peer victimization was assessed with the Revised Peer Experiences Questionnaire (M. J. Prinstein, J. Boergers, & E. M. Vernberg, 2001) in a large (N = 1,065), racially diverse (86.6% non-White) sample of adolescents 11-14 years of age. Emotion dysregulation and symptoms of depression and anxiety were also assessed. Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent construct of emotion dysregulation from measures of discrete emotion processes and of peer victimization and internalizing symptoms. Peer victimization was associated with increased emotion dysregulation over a 4-month period. Increases in emotion dysregulation mediated the relationship between relational and reputational, but not overt, victimization and changes in internalizing symptoms over a 7-month period. Evidence for a reciprocal relationship between internalizing symptoms and relational victimization was found, but emotion dysregulation did not mediate this relationship. The implications for preventive interventions are discussed.
Preliminary evidence supports the role of emotion-related deficits in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), including heightened emotional intensity, poor understanding of emotion, negative cognitive reactivity to emotions, and maladaptive emotion management. However, questions remain concerning the specificity of these emotion-related deficits compared to highly comorbid conditions such as social anxiety disorder (SAD). In the current study, 113 undergraduate students were administered measures of GAD, SAD, and emotion-related factors in order to clarify relationships among these variables. In univariate analyses, presence of SAD did not significantly impact the association between GAD and the emotion-related measures. Further, a discriminant function analysis revealed that emotional intensity and impaired regulation strategies provided the greatest discrimination between groups and best predicted a diagnosis of GAD (regardless of SAD comorbidity). Although their discriminatory ability was weaker, poor emotional understanding best predicted a diagnosis of SAD (regardless of GAD comorbidity), and non-acceptance of emotions best predicted comorbid GAD and SAD.
PURPOSE: Stressful life events represent potent risk factors for the development of internalizing symptoms among adolescents. However the mechanisms linking stress to adolescent psychopathology remain inadequately understood. This study examined the role of emotion dysregulation as a mechanism linking stress to changes in internalizing symptoms among adolescents. METHODS: This study used a short-term longitudinal design. Stressful life events were assessed in a large diverse sample of adolescents (N = 1065), and emotion dysregulation and symptomatology outcomes were assessed at two subsequent time points. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the role of emotion dysregulation as a mediator of the association between stress and subsequent changes in internalizing symptoms. RESULTS: Emotion dysregulation mediated the relationship between stressful life events and changes in internalizing symptoms over time. Sobel's test indicated a significant indirect effect of stressful life events on subsequent symptoms of depression (z = 5.05, p \textless .001) and anxiety (z = 4.95, p \textless .001) through emotion dysregulation. CONCLUSIONS: Stressful life events appear to disrupt the adaptive processing of emotion among adolescents. Emotion dysregulation represents an intrapersonal mechanism linking stress to poor mental health outcomes. The implications for preventive interventions are discussed.
OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of serious emotional disturbance (SED) among children and adolescents exposed to Hurricane Katrina along with the associations of SED with hurricane-related stressors, sociodemographics, and family factors 18 to 27 months after the hurricane. METHOD: A probability sample of prehurricane residents of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was administered a telephone survey. Respondents provided information on up to two of their children (n = 797) aged 4 to 17 years. The survey assessed hurricane-related stressors and lifetime history of psychopathology in respondents, screened for 12-month SED in respondents' children using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and determined whether children's emotional and behavioral problems were attributable to Hurricane Katrina. RESULTS: The estimated prevalence of SED was 14.9%, and 9.3% of the youths were estimated to have SED that is directly attributable to Hurricane Katrina. Stress exposure was associated strongly with SED, and 20.3% of the youths with high stress exposure had hurricane-attributable SED. Death of a loved one had the strongest association with SED among prehurricane residents of New Orleans, whereas exposure to physical adversity had the strongest association in the remainder of the sample. Among children with stress exposure, parental psychopathology and poverty were associated with SED. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of SED among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina remains high 18 to 27 months after the storm, suggesting a substantial need for mental health treatment resources in the hurricane-affected areas. The youths who were exposed to hurricane-related stressors, have a family history of psychopathology, and have lower family incomes are at greatest risk for long-term psychiatric impairment.
Anxiety sensitivity represents a robust risk factor for the development of anxiety symptoms among both adolescents and adults. However, the development of anxiety sensitivity among adolescents remains inadequately understood. In this study, the authors examined the role of stressful life events as a risk factor for the development of elevated anxiety sensitivity. Anxiety sensitivity was then examined in a longitudinal design as a mechanism linking stressful life events to changes in anxiety symptoms. Stressful life events, anxiety sensitivity, and internalizing symptoms were assessed in a diverse community sample of adolescents (N = 1,065) at 3 time points spanning 7 months. The results indicated that stressful life events were longitudinally associated with increases in anxiety sensitivity and that certain types of stressful life events, specifically events related to health and events related to family discord, were differentially predictive of increases in anxiety sensitivity. Moreover, anxiety sensitivity mediated the longitudinal relation between stressful life events and anxiety symptoms. Evidence was also found for the predictive specificity of anxiety sensitivity to symptoms of anxiety but not depression.
BACKGROUND: Sexual minority adolescents appear to be at increased risk for internalizing disorders relative to their heterosexual peers, but there is a paucity of research explaining this elevated risk. Emotion regulation deficits are increasingly understood as important predictors of internalizing psychopathology among general samples of adolescents. The present study sought to examine whether deficits in emotion regulation could account for disparities in internalizing symptoms between sexual minority and heterosexual adolescents. METHODS: The present study utilized longitudinal data from a racially/ethnically diverse (68% non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic/Latino) community sample of 1,071 middle school students (ages 11-14). RESULTS: Adolescents who endorsed same-sex attraction evidenced higher rates of internalizing symptoms at both time points. Structural equation modeling indicated that sexual minority adolescents exhibited greater deficits in emotion regulation (rumination and poor emotional awareness) than their heterosexual peers. Emotion regulation deficits in turn mediated the relationship between sexual minority status and symptoms of depression and anxiety. CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate the importance of considering normative psychological processes in the development of internalizing symptomatology among sexual minority adolescents, and suggest emotion regulation deficits as specific targets of prevention and intervention efforts with this population. Future studies are needed to determine whether stigma-related stressors are responsible for emotion regulation deficits among sexual minority youth.
The current investigation examined self-reported family history of psychological problems in a large sample of individuals diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and nonanxious controls. The GAD participants were all individuals receiving cognitive-behavioral therapy as part of two large randomized clinical trials. Family history information was obtained from the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule-Revised (ADIS-R; DiNardo & Barlow, 1988). The results indicate that, compared to control participants, individuals with GAD were more likely to have family members with anxiety problems, but not other psychological problems. Possible mechanisms for the familial transmission of GAD are discussed.
The role of worry in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) has been posited to serve as an avoidance of emotional experience, and emotion regulation deficits in GAD have been found in several previous studies. It remains unclear whether those with GAD experience more dysregulated emotions during periods of euthymia and positive affect or whether these deficits occur only during periods of worry. Individuals with GAD (with and without co-occurring dysphoria) and non-anxious controls were randomly assigned to receive a worry, neutral, or relaxation induction. Following the induction, all participants viewed a film clip documented to elicit sadness. Intensity of emotions and emotion regulation were examined following the induction period and film clip. The results revealed that, regardless of co-occurring dysphoria, individuals with GAD in the worry condition experienced more intense depressed affect than GAD participants in the other conditions and controls participants. In contrast, presence of worry appeared to have less impact on indices of emotion dysregulation, which were greater in participants with GAD compared to controls, but largely insensitive to contextual effects of worry or of relaxation. Following film viewing, both GAD participants with and without dysphoria displayed poorer understanding, acceptance, and management of emotions than did controls. However, acceptance and management deficits were most pronounced in individuals with both GAD and co-occurring dysphoria. Implications for the role of emotions in conceptualization and treatment of GAD are discussed.
The effects of worry and rumination on affective states and mentation type were examined in an unselected undergraduate sample in Study 1 and in a sample of individuals with high trait worry and rumination, high rumination, and low worry/rumination in Study 2. Participants engaged in worry and rumination inductions, counterbalanced in order across participants to assess main and interactive effects of these types of negative thinking. During mentation periods, the thought vs. imaginal nature and the temporal orientation of mentations were assessed 5 times. Following mentation periods, negative and positive affect, relaxation, anxiety, and depression were assessed. Both worry and rumination produced increases in negative affect and decreases in positive affect. Worry tended to generate greater anxiety, and rumination tended to generate greater depression. Interactive effects were also found indicating that worry may lessen the anxiety experienced during subsequent rumination. Moreover, worry lessened the depressing effects of rumination. Worry was associated with significantly greater thought than imagery, compared to rumination. Rumination involved a progression from mentation about the past to mentation about the future over time. Implications for understanding the generation of negative affect and comorbid anxiety and depression are discussed.
The prevalence of most adult psychiatric disorders varies across racial/ethnic groups and has important implications for prevention and intervention efforts. Research on racial/ethnic differences in the prevalence of internalizing and externalizing symptoms and disorders in adolescents has been less consistent or generally lacking. The current study examined the prevalence of these symptom groups in a large sample of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in which the three major racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. (White, Black, and Hispanic/Latino) were well-represented. Hispanic females reported experiencing higher levels of depression, anxiety, and reputational aggression than other groups. Black males reported the highest levels of overtly aggressive behavior and also reported higher levels of physiologic anxiety and disordered eating than males from other racial/ethnic groups. Hispanic females also exhibited higher levels of comorbidity than other racial/ethnic groups.
The relationship between dependent personality disorder (DPD) and several of the anxiety disorders is explored. Recent meta-analytic findings (this issue) suggest that DPD is comorbid with social phobia, obsessivecompulsive disorder, and panic disorder but not with the other anxiety disorders. Examination of comorbidity rates clarifies the relationship between DPD and specific anxiety disorders, but this method does not address many of the important questions concerning this relationship. It remains unclear whether DPD is associated with an increased risk for developing an anxiety disorder or whether anxiety disorders increase the risk of developing DPD. Additionally, if DPD does serve as a risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders, it is unclear whether this risk is clinically meaningful. Finally, causal mechanisms leading from DPD to anxiety disorder have not been examined and warrant future investigation. Examination of comorbidity rates between DPD and the anxiety disorders does not address many clinically relevant issues surrounding the DPD-anxiety relationship, but it does highlight important directions for future research.