Childhood adversities, adulthood life events and depression

J Affect Disord. 2010 Dec;127(1-3):130-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.04.031. Epub 2010 May 31.


Background: The role of childhood adversities in predicting adulthood depression has been suggested to be complex and in need of additional comprehensive studies.

Aims: This investigation set out to examine whether increased exposure to life events (LEs) in adulthood mediates the association between childhood adversities and adulthood depression.

Methods: This study is based on a random health survey sample from the Finnish working-aged population (n=16,877) with a follow-up of up to 7 years. Depression was identified by Beck Depression Inventory, records of antidepressant prescriptions and hospitalization due to depression obtained from national health registers.

Results: Childhood adversities were associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing a high number of LEs in adulthood and their perceived burdensomeness. The mean number of new LEs correlated significantly (P<0.001) in a dose-response relationship with the number of childhood adversities. Reporting childhood adversities was associated with a 1.28-2.70-fold increase in the odds of depression as indicated by BDI score, a 1.29-1.94-fold increase in the rate of antidepressant prescriptions and a 1.17-4.04-fold increase in the risk of hospitalization due to depression. Adjustment for new LE attenuated these associations by 21-24%, but did not render them insignificant.

Conclusions: Increased exposure to adult negative life events proximal to adult depression may partially explain the association between childhood adversities and adult depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Family Conflict / psychology*
  • Finland
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult


  • Antidepressive Agents