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Association between recent stressful life events and prevalence of depression, anxiety and PTSD differs according to exposure to childhood adversity

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Does the relationship between recent past-year stressful life events and prevalence of psychiatric disorder vary according to exposure to childhood adversity (CA)?


34 653 civilian, non-institutionalised adults aged 18 years or older. Participants were taking part in the second wave of the National Epidemiologic Study of Alcohol and Related Conditions.


General population, USA; 2004–2005.


The Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule – DSM-IV Version (AUDADIS-IV) was used to assess stressful life events and psychiatric diagnoses in the past 12 months. Experience of CA before the age of 17 was assessed retrospectively using various questionnaires, and included physical, emotional or sexual abuse; neglect or parental dysfunction (domestic violence, serious mental illness, criminality or substance abuse).


Major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders (including generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, and social phobia).



Cross-sectional analysis of a single wave of data collection from a cohort study.

Main results

About half of respondents (49.4%) reported some degree of CA, with 19.3% reporting exposure to three or more events. The most common adversities were exposure to parental substance …

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  • Sources of funding Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


  • Competing interests None.

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