Adults who have suffered maltreatment at the psychological and physical level or sexual abuse or neglect as children are twice as likely to develop both multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes and are at an increased risk of responding poorly to treatment, a new study found.
The research, led by a team at King's College London Institute of Psychiatry also found that maltreated individuals are more likely to respond poorly to pharmacological and psychological treatment for depression.
The results have emerged from a combined analysis of 16 epidemiological studies involving more than 20,000 participants and of 10 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 participants.
Dr Andrea Danese, senior investigator of the study at King's said: "Identifying those at risk of multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes is crucial from a public health perspective. The results indicate that childhood maltreatment is associated both with an increased risk of developing recurrent and persistent episodes of depression, and with an increased risk of responding poorly to treatment.
"Therefore prevention and early therapeutic interventions targeting childhood maltreatment could prove vital in helping prevent the major health burden owing to depression. Knowing that individuals with a history of maltreatment won't respond as well to treatment may also be valuable for clinicians in determining patients' prognosis," she added.
The study will be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.