Childhood determinants of past-year anxiety and depression in recently transitioned military personnel

J Affect Disord. 2020 Sep 1:274:59-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.04.053. Epub 2020 May 13.


Background: Anxiety and depression may hamper a smooth transition from military to civilian life and may be important predictors of longer-term health and functioning. However, it is as yet unclear to what extent they are determined by childhood factors in a recently transitioned population.

Methods: We utilised logistic regression and Generalised Structural Equation Modelling to analyse associations of ICD-10 past-year anxiety and depression with childhood trauma and disorder in a recently transitioned population using detailed interview data from the ADF (Australian Defence Force) Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme.

Results: Past-year anxiety (including PTSD) was prevalent (36.4%, 95% CI, 31.9-41.1) and associated with childhood anxiety (but not other types of childhood disorder), childhood interpersonal trauma (but not other childhood trauma) and adult-onset trauma. Childhood anxiety had a direct and significant association with past-year anxiety. The pathway between childhood interpersonal trauma and past-year anxiety was fully mediated by childhood anxiety. Past-year depression was less prevalent (11.3%, 95% CI, 8.7-14.5) and had no association with childhood disorder or trauma variables.

Limitations: The main predictor variables utilized in this analysis were childhood experiences recalled from adulthood, thus rendering the responses vulnerable to autobiographical bias.

Conclusions: Past-year anxiety was highly prevalent in the period of transition and had strong associations with childhood and military factors, suggesting predictability and potentially preventability.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Epidemiology; Military.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic* / epidemiology