Childhood adversity, recent life events and depression in late life

Hannie C. Comijs*, Aartjan T.F. Beekman, Filip Smit, Marijke Bremmer, Theo van Tilburg, Dorly J.H. Deeg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The study investigates whether persons who have experienced childhood adversity are more likely to develop depressive symptoms when faced with recent events. Method: Data were used from a population-based sample, aged 55 to 85 years (n = 1887), which were not depressed at baseline. Childhood adversities and recent stressful life events were retrospectively assessed. Depressive symptoms were measured with the CES-D. Results: 14.4% of our sample experienced adverse events during childhood (< 18 yrs) and 35.4% experienced recent events. Associations of depressive symptoms were found with both, childhood adversity (OR 1.80, 95% CI 1.21-2.69) and recent life events (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.01-2.00). The effect of recent events on depressive symptoms was not modified by childhood adversity. Limitations: Underreporting may be present due to unwillingness to report embarrassing events or to disclose painful memories. Conclusions: No evidence was found for the assumption that older persons were more vulnerable for depression in reaction to recent life events when they were exposed to childhood adversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-246
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007

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