The relation of childhood maltreatment to psychotic symptoms in adolescents and young adults with depression

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Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(3), 241–247

This study examined the relation between a history of maltreatment and the presence of psychotic symptoms in a community sample of adolescents and young adults with major depressive disorder. One hundred and twenty-nine depressed adolescents and young adults (M = 16.02 years, 77% female, 92% White) were recruited through community advertisement and clinician referral. Clinical diagnoses and psychotic symptoms (i.e., hallucinations and delusions) were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview. Childhood maltreatment was assessed using a contextual interview and standardized rating system. Logistic regression analyses examined the relation between childhood maltreatment and psychotic symptoms. As hypothesized, individuals with psychotic symptoms were significantly more likely to report a history of severe sexual maltreatment than those without psychotic symptoms (Wald = 5.44, odds ratio = 3.86, p = .020), 95% confidence interval [1.24, 12.01]. Further, those with psychotic symptoms were more likely to report being the victims of more than one type of maltreatment than those without, χ2(2) = 6.66, p = .036 (ϕ = .23; 40% vs. 16%). Results held upon adjusting for overall level of depression symptoms. A history of severe sexual maltreatment is related to a severe presentation of major depressive disorder even in the initial onset of the syndrome in adolescence and young adulthood. These findings underscore the importance of early assessment of both depression and maltreatment history to implement interventions that have the potential to prevent the emergence of psychotic psychopathology in young people at risk.

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