Vladimir Maletic, MD: How Early Life Adversity Affects Mental Health

SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
Thomas Castles


Vladimir Maletic, MD: 

Early life adversity is a major factor in treatment of psychiatric disorders. Not only does early life adversity increase the risk of developing a number of psychiatric conditions, primarily major depressive disorder, it very much influences treatment outcomes. 

In a large study that was conducted in New Zealand, with several thousand participants, they looked at, prospectively measured early life adversity and what kind of impact may it have on psychiatric disorders and overall health. 

What they found is that early life adversity, and it was very precisely defined -- parental rejection, parental abandonment, sexual trauma, physical abuse, -- so this was all collectively documented occurring between the ages 3 and 11. 

So individuals who had 0 traumatic events, versus the ones who had 2 or more had significant difference in terms of their depression rates 32 years later. 

Individuals who have suffered more than 2 adverse early life events had double the rates of depression, but interestingly enough they also had double the rates of inflammation as measured high sensitivity, CRP scores above 3 -- they had double the rates of metabolic disorders, and they had double the risk of developing 2 or more chronic medical illnesses. 

So early life adversity is a significant prognosticator of future occurrences of major depressive disorder. 

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