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27-08-2012 | Mental health | Article

Childhood trauma common in schizophrenia, affective disorders


Free abstract

medwireNews: More than four-fifths of patients with schizophrenia spectrum or affective disorders have a history of childhood trauma (CT), results from a Norwegian study show.

In a study of 305 psychiatric patients from three major hospitals in Oslo, the team found that 250 (82%) had experienced at least one type of CT, 49 (16%) had experienced two types, 58 (19%) three types, 52 (17%) four types, and 27 (9%) had experienced five types of trauma.

"Clinicians should be alert of childhood abuse in [the] severely mentally ill, as the consequences may contribute to the clinical picture and may require special attention and measures to be taken into treatment," advise Steinar Lorentzen (University of Oslo) and team.

Of the participants, 194 were diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, and schizoaffective disorder) and 111 had affective disorders (bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, and major depressive disorder with psychotic features).

Childhood Trauma Questionnaire responses revealed that the most frequent type of CT was emotional neglect (65%), followed by emotional abuse (60%), physical neglect (40%), sexual abuse (32%), and physical abuse (25%).

Patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders had a significantly higher prevalence of physical abuse and physical neglect than affective disorder patients, at 29% versus 18% and 46% versus 32%, respectively.

Schizophrenia spectrum disorder patients also had a nonsignificantly increased overall prevalence of CT compared with affective disorder patients, at 85% versus 77%.

Lorentzen and team conclude in Comprehensive Psychiatry: "The main finding of the present study was that a high proportion (82%) of patients with a schizophrenia spectrum or affective disorder (including bipolar and major depression with psychotic features) had experienced trauma in childhood."

They add: "More research is needed to improve our knowledge of the relationship between CT, genetic predisposition, and the clinical picture in patients with severe mental disorders."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen, Senior medwireNews Reporter

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