Childhood Abuse Predicts Lack of Resilience From Depression


A study of 1,128 adults drawn from Canada’s National Population Health Survey finds that more than three quarters (77%) recovered from depression in 2 years, and nearly all (94%) had recovered by 12 years. However, a history of adverse childhood experiences predicted a longer time to remission. The study appears in January’s Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

Abstract →

Fuller-Thomson, E., Battiston, M., Gadalla, T., Brennenstuhl, S.; Bouncing Back: Remission From Depression in a 12-year Panel Study of a Representative Canadian Community Sample. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. January, 2014. 49(1)

Of further interest:
Victims of Childhood Physical Abuse Recover Late from Depression as Adults (University Herald)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. This makes sense, as a survivor of a very abusive boarding school I can testify that child abuse caused a change in my view of the world and people at a young age.

    I really hate to admit it but when I meet new people my “sub conscience” still believes that they are no good until proven otherwise.

    I think abused dogs at the pound are the same way.

    There is also a saying in recovery “hurt people – hurt people” , I am guilty of that , for example for a long time my “strike back” response to minor wrongs done to me was inappropriate at times.

    This child abuse link to depression and other problems needs to be addressed cause even if a person is one of the few lucky ones that actually gets a mood lift from the medications, drugs don’t change the inner belief systems that lead to the depression or what-ever problems or so called diagnosis.

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    • You are correct. No matter how many pills you poke down someone nothing is going to change in their lives for the better until they’re able to deal with the trauma that changed their lives.

      This is why you have a revolving door in the Admissions Dept. of every state hospital. Very little if any actual therapy is done and the only so-called “treatment” that people receive while incarcerated is the toxic drugs. The psychiatrists flood people with the drugs and send them back out with nothing done for the initial and original cause of all the person’s problems. This isn’t rocket science!

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  2. This article is also notable in finding that at the community level, people almost always recover from clinical depression. 77% recovery in two years and 94% recovery in 12 years! So much for “depression is a chronic disease” (a phrase parroted by NAMI and NIMH, easily verifiable via a Google search). The authors conspicuously left receiving psychiatric treatment out of their study as a predictor, and based on past research I’m guessing it would predict lower likelihood of recovery. I’ll contact them and see if they have these data.

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