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: 12.3). 12/2001; 158(11):1871-7. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.11.1871
Source: PubMed


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.

Download full-text


Available from: Kevin M Malone
  • Source
    • "In a sample of 361 emerging adults, Oshri et al. (2015) found that the strongest indirect link between child abuse/neglect and risk taking behaviors, including antisocial behavior, was impulsivity. Brodsky et al. (2001) revealed in a study of adults with depression that child maltreatment was strongly related to impulse control deficits, antisocial behavior, and suicide. Furthermore, consistent mediation effects have arisen using the specific concept of ego control as measured by a Q card-sorting paradigm (Block & Block, 1988, 2006). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A model examining the effects of an increasing number of maltreatment subtypes experienced on antisocial behavior, as mediated by impulsivity and moderated by a polygenic index of dopaminergic genotypes, was investigated. An African American sample of children (N = 1,012, M age = 10.07) with and without maltreatment histories participated. Indicators of aggression, delinquency, and disruptive peer behavior were obtained from peer- and counselor-rated measures to form a latent variable of antisocial behavior; impulsivity was assessed by counselor report. Five genotypes in four dopaminergic genes (dopamine receptors D4, D2, known as DRD4, DRD2; dopamine active transporter 1, known as DAT1; and catechol-O-methyltransferase, known as COMT) conferring heightened environmental sensitivity were combined into one polygenic index. Using structural equation modeling, a first-stage, moderated-mediation model was evaluated. Age and sex were entered as covariates, both as main effects and in interaction with maltreatment and the gene index. The model had excellent fit: χ2 (32, N = 1,012) = 86.51, p < .001; comparative fit index = 0.982, Tucker-Lewis index = 0.977, root mean square error of approximation = 0.041, and standardized root mean square residual = 0.022. The effect of maltreatment subtypes on antisocial behavior was partially mediated by impulsivity (β = 0.173, p < .001), and these relations were moderated by the number of differentiating dopaminergic genotypes. Specifically, a significant Gene × Environment interaction (β = 0.016, p = .013) indicated that the relation between maltreatment and impulsivity was stronger as children evinced more differentiating genotypes, thereby strengthening the mediational effect of impulsivity on antisocial behavior. These findings elucidate the manner by which maltreated children develop early signs of antisocial behavior, and the genetic mechanisms involved in greater vulnerability for maladaptation in impulse control within the context of child maltreatment.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Development and Psychopathology
    • "To explore additional sources of variance that may contribute to aggression, we examined possible effects of childhood abuse. As expected from prior studies (Bonomi et al., 2008; Brodsky et al., 2001; Carey et al., 2008; Cong et al., 2012; Draper et al., 2008; Fergusson et al., 2008; Jumper, 1995; Kaplow and Widom, 2007; Kendler and Aggen, 2013; Kendler et al., 2000; Kendler et al., 2004; Levitan et al., 1998; Paolucci et al., 2001; Rohde et al., 2008; Young et al., 1997), a higher prevalence of self-reported childhood abuse was seen in MDD patients compared to HV, and childhood abuse was a significant predictor of aggression. However, we found that childhood abuse history did not mitigate the association between plasma EPA and SUD on aggression or impulsivity, indicating that the effects of EPA and childhood abuse on aggression are independent. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with low levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), holding promise for new perspectives on disease etiology and treatment targets. As aggressive and impulsive behaviors are associated with low omega-3 PUFA levels in some clinical contexts, we investigated plasma PUFA relationships with trait aggression and impulsivity in patients with MDD. Medication-free MDD patients (n=48) and healthy volunteers (HV, n=35) were assessed with the Brown-Goodwin Aggression Inventory. A subset (MDD, n=39; HV, n=33) completed the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. Plasma PUFAs eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6n-3), and arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) were quantified and ln-transformed to mitigate distributional skew. Ln-transformed PUFA (lnPUFA) levels were predictors in regression models, with aggression or impulsivity scores as outcomes, and cofactors of sex and diagnostic status (MDD with or without a history of substance use disorder [SUD], or HV). Interactions were tested between relevant PUFAs and diagnostic status. Additional analyses explored possible confounds of depression severity, self-reported childhood abuse history, and, in MDD patients, suicide attempt history. Among PUFA, lnEPA but not lnDHA predicted aggression (F1,76=12.493, p=0.001), and impulsivity (F1,65=5.598, p=0.021), with interactions between lnEPA and history of SUD for both aggression (F1,76=7.941, p=0.001) and impulsivity (F1,65=3.485, p=0.037). Results remained significant when adjusted for childhood abuse, depression severity, or history of suicide attempt. In conclusion, low EPA levels were associated with aggression and impulsivity only in patients with MDD and comorbid SUD, even though in most cases SUD was in full sustained remission.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Journal of Psychiatric Research
  • Source
    • "Although contradictory findings have also been published (Bevilacqua et al., 2012), together, these results suggest that trauma and impulsivity may indeed exert a multiplier effect on interindividual cognitive emotion regulation differences. Previous studies established a clear link between impulsivity and emotional reactions after trauma exposure in clinical (abuse survivors: Brodsky et al., 2001; accident survivors: Joseph, Dalgleish, Thrasher, & Yule, 1997) and non-clinical samples alike (students: Aidman & Kollaras- Mitsinikos, 2006). However, as reviewed by Simmen- Janevska, Brandstätter, and Maercker (2012), these studies result in only limited comprehension of this relationship as they failed to consider impulsivity as a multifactorial construct. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background: Traumatic exposure may modulate the expression of impulsive behavioral dispositions and change the implementation of emotion regulation strategies associated with depressive mood. Past studies resulted in only limited comprehension of these relationships, especially because they failed to consider impulsivity as a multifactorial construct. Objective: Based on Whiteside and Lynam’s multidimensional model that identifies four distinct dispositionalfacets of impulsive-like behaviors, namely urgency, (lack of) premeditation, (lack of) perseverance, and sensation seeking (UPPS), the current study used a sample of community volunteers to investigate whether an interaction exists between impulsivity facets and lifetime trauma exposure in predicting cognitive emotion regulation and depressive mood. Methods: Ninety-three adults completed questionnaires measuring lifetime trauma exposure, impulsivity, cognitive emotion regulation, and depressive mood. Results: Results showed that trauma-exposed participants with a strong disposition toward urgency (predisposition to act rashly in intense emotional contexts) tended to use fewer appropriate cognitive emotion regulation strategies than other individuals. Unexpectedly, participants lacking in perseverance (predisposition to have difficulties concentrating on demanding tasks) used more appropriate emotion regulation strategies if they had experienced traumatic events during their life than if they had not. Emotion regulation mediated the path between these two impulsivity facets and depressive mood. Conclusions: Together, these findings suggest that impulsivity has a differential impact on emotion regulation and depressive mood depending on lifetime exposure to environmental factors, especially traumatic events.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Show more