A new study has shown that individuals exposed to early life stress are more likely to develop a major depressive disorder in childhood or adolescence than individuals who had not been exposed to early life stress.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was based on a meta-analysis of data from 62 journal articles and over 44,000 unique participants.
Examining the association between eight different types of early life stress and youth-onset depression, the researchers, led by Joelle LeMoult, found that while some types of early life stress were not associated with major depressive disorder, other types of stress, including emotional abuse, were associated more strongly with major depressive disorder than a broader assessment of early life stress.
“Using a random-effects meta-analysis, we found that individuals who experienced early life stress were more likely to develop major depressive disorder before the age of 18 years than were individuals without a history of early life stress (odds ratio = 2.50; 95 percent confidence interval 2.08, 3.00).
“Separate meta-analyses revealed a range of associations with major depressive disorder: whereas some types of early life stress (e.g., poverty) were not associated with major depressive disorder, other types (e.g., emotional abuse) were associated more strongly with major depressive disorder than was early life stress considered more broadly,” the researchers noted.
The researchers concluded that the findings provide important evidence that the adverse effect of early life stress on major depressive disorder risk manifests early in development, prior to adulthood, and varies by type of early life stress.
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