Childhood trauma in adults with social anxiety disorder and panic disorder: a cross-national study.

MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders, Department of Psychiatry, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
African Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 0.73). 11/2010; 13(5):376-81. DOI: 10.4314/ajpsy.v13i5.63103
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The influence of childhood trauma as a specific environmental factor on the development of adult psychopathology is far from being elucidated. As part of a collaborative project between research groups from South Africa (SA) and Sweden focusing on genetic and environmental factors contributing to anxiety disorders, this study specifically investigated rates of childhood trauma in South African and Swedish patients respectively, and whether, in the sample as a whole, different traumatic experiences in childhood are predictive of social anxiety (SAD) or panic disorder (PD) in adulthood.
Participants with SAD or PD (85 from SA, 135 from Sweden) completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Logistic regression was performed with data from the two countries separately, and from the sample as a whole, with primary diagnoses as dependent variables, gender, age, and country as covariates, and the CTQ subscale totals as independent variables. The study also investigated the internal consistency (Cronbach alpha) of the CTQ subscales.
SA patients showed higher levels of childhood trauma than Swedish patients. When data from both countries were combined, SAD patients reported higher rates of childhood emotional abuse compared to those with PD. Moreover, emotional abuse in childhood was found to play a predictive role in SAD/PD in adulthood in the Swedish and the combined samples, and the same trend was found in the SA sample. The psychometric qualities of the CTQ subscales were adequate, with the exception of the physical neglect subscale.
Our findings suggest that anxiety disorder patients may differ across countries in terms of childhood trauma. Certain forms of childhood abuse may contribute specific vulnerability to different types of psychopathology. Longitudinal studies should focus on the potential sequential development of SAD/PD among individuals with childhood emotional abuse.

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