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Childhood Abuse, Parental Addictions May Prolong Depression Recovery

Update Date: Jan 10, 2014 06:18 PM EST

Adults who were abused as children or raised by parents with addiction take longer to recover from depression, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Toronto looked at 1,128 depressed Canadian adults. Depressed participants were followed every other year for up to 12 years until remission occurred.

"Our findings indicated that most people bounce back. In fact, three-quarters of individuals were no longer depressed after two years," co-author Emeriti Tahany M. Gadalla, said in a news release.

Gadalla noted there were variations between rates of recovery.

"Early adversities have far-reaching consequences. The average time to recovery from depression was 9 months longer for adults who had been physically abused during their childhood and about 5 months longer for those whose parents had addiction problems" lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, Sandra Rotman Endowed Chair in the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said in a news release.

"Numerous studies have shown that childhood abuse and parental addictions make individuals more vulnerable to depression," co-author Marla Battiston said in a statement. "Our research highlights that these factors also slow the recovery time among those who become depressed."

Researchers believe that negative experiences in childhood may disrupt the normal development of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which affects stress regulation.

"In many studies, adult depression has been characterized by HPA axis hyperactivity," added co-author Sarah Brennenstuhl. "This link is an important avenue for future research."

The findings are published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

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