OBJECTIVES: The childhood adversities model is generally accepted as a predictor of adult psychopathology vulnerability. It stems from child development theories, but the question remains as of how well solid research supports it. The aim of this article is to give a review of the studies concerning childhood adversities and their impact on the development of anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder in adulthood.
METHOD: A computerized search of the MEDLINE database of publications up to 31 March 2016 was done, using the keywords "childhood adversities, abuse, maltreatment, bullying" and "anxiety disorders, depressive disorder". No backward time constraints were used. Non-original studies, conference abstracts, books and book chapters, commentaries, and dissertations were excluded.
RESULTS: The influence of childhood adversities on later age psychopathology is examined in five categories: the negative family atmosphere, abuse, loss of a close person, the social difficulties, and problems at school (including, most importantly bullying). The majority of studies confirmed the connection between childhood adversities and anxiety and depression disorders in adulthood. The character of the adversities is not, apparently, a specific predictor for a concrete psychopathology. Multiple adversities are more frequently connected with depressive and anxiety disorders in adulthood, cumulating together in broader adverse context.
CONCLUSION: Childhood adversities were found to increase vulnerability to the distress, depression, fear and anxiety later in the life. However, specific correlations between a given childhood adversity and a specific form of depression or anxiety disorder were either not found or weak. This is in line with the generally accepted view considering each of these factors a non-specific stressor increasing vulnerability to mood and affect disorders later in life.