Childhood social environment, emotional reactivity to stress, and mood and anxiety disorders across the life course
Depression and Anxiety, 12/09/2010
McLaughlin KA et al. – The authors investigate whether emotional reactivity to stress is a mechanism in the association between childhood environment characteristics and adult mood and anxiety disorders. Heightened emotional reactivity in early adulthood is associated with both adverse childhood environments and elevated risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood. Emotional reactivity may be one mechanism linking childhood adversity to mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood.
Data from Study of Adult Development, longitudinal study of men (N = 268) followed for nearly seven decades beginning in late adolescence
Childhood social environment characteristics assessed during home visits and interviews with respondents' parents at entry into study
Stress reactivity assessed during respondents' sophomore year of college via physician exam
Onset of mood and anxiety disorders in adulthood ascertained by research psychiatrists who completed chart reviews of interview, questionnaire, and physical exam data collected during repeated assessments from age 20 to 70
Respondents with better overall childhood environments and greater number of environmental strengths were at lower odds of developing a mood or anxiety disorder in adulthood than respondents with more adverse childhood environments
Higher stress reactivity observed among respondents from families with lower socio-economic status and with childhood environments characterized by greater conflict and adversity
Elevated stress reactivity, in turn, predicted onset of adult mood and anxiety disorders
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