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.