Childhood abuse and mood disorders

NEW YORK, August 4 (Praxis Press) Childhood abuse may play a role in the development of mood and anxiety disorders but whether the abuse results in a persistent sensitization or hyperactivity of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) systems is unclear.

August 8, 2000

NEW YORK, August 4 (Praxis Press) Childhood abuse may play a role in the development of mood and anxiety disorders but whether the abuse results in a persistent sensitization or hyperactivity of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) systems is unclear. To investigate this relationship, Heim and colleagues, performed a prospective controlled study of 49 healthy women recruited into four study groups: no current major depression and no history of childhood abuse (controls); current major depression and history of childhood abuse; no current major depression and history of childhood abuse; current major depression and no history of childhood abuse. The researchers then measured adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol levels, and heart rate responses to a standardized psychosocial laboratory stressor and compared the responses among the four study groups. They found that women with a history of childhood abuse and a current major depression diagnosis exhibited a more than six-fold greater ACTH response to stress than age-matched controls. Women abused as children may become depressed as a result of hyperactivity of the corticotropin-releasing factor.

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