The Effects of Childhood Abuse on the Development of Postpartum Psychopathology
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This study examines the effects of childhood abuse on development of later Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Participants were postpartum women who had experienced childhood abuse and a control group of postpartum women with no abuse history. Participants were given questionnaires about their abuse experience, associated societal and maternal characteristics, and level ofMDD and PTSD. Characteristics of the abuse experience such as age at the time of abuse, severity of abuse, relationship to the perpetrator, whether or not the woman disclosed the abuse at the time it occurred, and whether or not they received a helpful reaction to this disclosure were all compared to levels of MDD and PTSD. There was a strong general correlation between childhood abuse and level of MDD and PTSD postpartum, but no specific links among the abuse characteristics and levels of MDD and PTSD were found. Maternal characteristics which were compared included coping strategies, level of trauma cognitions, and blaming style. Societal characteristics included current level of social support, annual household income, mother's age and race, and mother's education level. Maternal and societal characteristics were tested through regressional analyses for a possible moderating influence on levels of MDD and PTSD in adult life after an abuse experience in childhood. Annual income was shown to be a modifying factor on this relationship. The current research states the need to determine factors impacting the link between childhood abuse and psychopathology, and this study shows the importance of societal characteristics in this relationship as well as factors that specifically affect postpartum women.