The impact of self-reported childhood trauma on emotion regulation in borderline personality disorder and major depression

J Trauma Dissociation. 2014;15(4):384-401. doi: 10.1080/15299732.2013.863262.


Early life stress is said to play a critical role in the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD) and major depressive disorder (MDD), but the underlying mediating factors remain uncertain. This study aimed to investigate self-reported childhood trauma, emotion regulation difficulties, and their associations in a sample of BPD (n = 49) and MDD (n = 48) patients and healthy control participants (n = 63). Multiple regressions were used to evaluate the impact of the quality and severity of self-reported childhood trauma on self-reported emotion regulation. The results supported an association between self-reported maltreatment experiences, especially emotional abuse and neglect, and emotion regulation difficulties. Additional analyses showed that emotion regulation difficulties influence the association between self-reported emotional abuse and acute symptomatology in the BPD subgroup. Emotion regulation difficulties may be 1 pathway through which early life stress, particularly emotional abuse, increases the risk for developing BPD symptomatology.

Keywords: borderline personality disorder; childhood trauma; emotion regulation; major depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires