Childhood maltreatment and major depressive disorder in well-being: a network analysis of a longitudinal community-based cohort

Psychol Med. 2023 Mar 24;1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291723000673. Online ahead of print.


Background: Little has been done to comprehensively study the relationships between multiple well-being constructs at a time. Even less is known about whether child maltreatment and major depressive disorder (MDD) impact different well-being constructs. This study aims to examine whether maltreated or depressed individuals have specific impacts on well-being structures.

Methods: Data analyzed were from the Montreal South-West Longitudinal Catchment Area Study (N = 1380). The potential confounding of age and sex was controlled by propensity score matching. We used network analysis to assess the impact of maltreatment and MDD on well-being. The centrality of nodes was estimated with the 'strength' index and a case-dropping bootstrap procedure was used to test network stability. Differences in the structure and connectivity of networks between different studied groups were also examined.

Results: Autonomy and daily life and social relations were the most central nodes for the MDD and maltreated groups [MDD group: strength coefficient (SC) autonomy = 1.50; SCdaily life and social relations = 1.34; maltreated group: SCautonomy = 1.69; SCdaily life and social relations = 1.55]. Both maltreatment and MDD groups had statistical differences in terms of the global strength of interconnectivity in their networks. Network invariance differed between with and without MDD groups indicating different structures of their networks. The non-maltreatment and MDD group had the highest level of overall connectivity.

Conclusions: We discovered distinct connectivity patterns of well-being outcomes in maltreatment and MDD groups. The identified core constructs could serve as potential targets to maximize the effectiveness of clinical management of MDD and also advance prevention to minimize the sequelae of maltreatment.

Keywords: Childhood maltreatment; Life satisfaction; Major depressive disorder; Network analysis; Psychological well-being; Quality of life.