Article

The Relationship of Childhood Abuse to Impulsivity and Suicidal Behavior in Adults With Major Depression

Conter Center for the Study of Suicidal Behavior, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY 10032, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 12/2001; 158(11):1871-7. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.11.1871
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This study investigated whether a higher frequency of reported childhood trauma would be found in depressed adults with higher levels of trait impulsivity, aggression, and suicidal behavior.
In 136 depressed adult inpatients, the authors assessed trait impulsivity, aggression history, and number of lifetime suicide attempts as well as the medical lethality and the intent to die associated with the most lethal attempt. These variables were then compared between those with and those without a reported history of childhood physical or sexual abuse.
Subjects who reported an abuse history were more likely to have made a suicide attempt and had significantly higher impulsivity and aggression scores than those who did not report an abuse history. Impulsivity and aggression scores were significantly higher in subjects with a history of at least one suicide attempt. A logistic regression analysis revealed that abuse history remained significantly associated with suicide attempt status after adjustment for impulsivity, aggression history, and presence of borderline personality disorder. Among those who attempted suicide, there were no significant differences in severity of suicidal behavior between those with and without a childhood history of abuse.
Abuse in childhood may constitute an environmental risk factor for the development of trait impulsivity and aggression as well as suicide attempts in depressed adults. Alternatively, impulsivity and aggression may be inherited traits underlying both childhood abuse and suicidal behavior in adulthood disorders. Additional research is needed to estimate the relative contributions of heredity and environmental experience to the development of impulsivity, aggression, and suicidal behavior.

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