Research has shown that a history of childhood adversities is common in patients with psychiatric disorders but few studies have investigated links between specific types of adversity and specific psychiatric disorders.
We investigated the frequency of early childhood adversities in a sample consisting of 91 patients with diagnosis of schizophrenic spectrum disorders (SSD), 74 patients with bipolar disorder (BD), 83 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and 85 healthy controls and sought to identify adverse early childhood life events that predict the development of major psychiatric disorders. The Childhood Experiences of Care and Abuse questionnaire was used to collect data on traumatic experiences occurring before the age of 17 years and comprehensive demographic data were also collected. The data were analyzed with chi-squared tests, t-tests, post-hoc and logistic regression.
Maternal absence/loss and economic difficulties in the early life were more prevalent in the BD group than other groups. Escape from home, cannabis abuse, psychological abuse, physical abuse and loneliness were more frequent in the SSD group than in other groups. Paternal absence, neglect of core needs, serious familial tension and absence of adult and peer confidants were all less common in the HC group than in the other groups. The regression model confirmed that different types of adversities play a crucial role in the development of the three investigated disorders.
Our results support that SSD, BD and MDD are associated to different childhood adversities. This suggests that psychosocial interventions that reduce the incidence of these early life adversities might reduce the incidence of severe and disabling psychiatric disorders.