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Psychological Trauma Exposure Increases MDD Risk

Psychiatry Res; 2019 Feb; Blakey, Yi, et al

Findings of a recent study underscore the role of traumatic stress-related interference and self-medication in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). Researchers tested the hypothesis that traumatic stress symptom-related interference with daily activities and with relationships, and self-medicating traumatic stress symptoms with alcohol and with drugs, would predict MDD onset in a nationally representative sample after controlling for established risk factors. Data were drawn from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) using 2 samples: adults reporting lifetime trauma exposure but no history of MDD at Wave 1 (n=8,301), and a subset of those participants who met criteria for lifetime posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prior to Wave 1 (n=1,055). They found that younger age, female gender, a greater number of different trauma types, traumatic stress-related interference with daily activities, and self-medicating traumatic stress symptoms with alcohol significantly predicted MDD onset in both groups.


Blakey SM, Yi JY, Calhoun PS, Beckham JC, Elbogen EB. Why do trauma survivors become depressed? Testing the behavioral model of depression in a nationally representative sample. Psychiatry Res. 2019;272:587-594. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.150