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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 650804, 11 pages
Research Article

Childhood Trauma and Its Relation to Chronic Depression in Adulthood

1Sigmund-Freud-Institute, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany
2University of Kassel, Psychoanalytical Psychology, 34127 Kassel, Germany

Received 24 June 2015; Revised 25 October 2015; Accepted 29 October 2015

Academic Editor: Janusz K. Rybakowski

Copyright © 2015 Alexa Negele et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is a large consensus indicating that childhood trauma is significantly involved in the development of depression. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of retrospectively recalled childhood trauma in chronically depressed patients and to investigate a more specific relationship between trauma type and depression. We further asked for the influence of multiple experiences of childhood trauma on the vulnerability to a chronic course of depression in adulthood. 349 chronically depressed patients of the German LAC Depression Study completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, a self-report measure of traumatic experiences in childhood. 75.6% of the chronically depressed patients reported clinically significant histories of childhood trauma. 37% of the chronically depressed patients reported multiple childhood traumatization. Experiences of multiple trauma also led to significantly more severe depressive symptoms. Stepwise multiple regression analysis suggested that childhood emotional abuse and sexual abuse were significantly associated with a higher symptom severity in chronically depressed adults. Yet, expanding the regression model for multiple exposures showed that multiplicity was the only remaining significant predictor for symptom severity in chronically depressed patients. Clinical implications suggest a precise assessment of childhood trauma in chronically depressed patients with a focus on emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and multiple exposures to childhood trauma. This trial is registered with registration number ISRCTN91956346.