Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
Original Article

Correlations between childhood maltreatment, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and risk behaviors in adolescent schoolchildren

Daniela Ladeira Reis, Mônica Gonçalves Ribeiro, Isabela Couto, Nina Maia, Dagoberto Bonavides, Ana Cristina Botelho, Claudia Luisa Sena, Curt Hemanny, Irismar Reis de Oliveira

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Childhood maltreatment is extremely harmful to health, especially in relation to development of the psychiatric disorders throughout life. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and types of maltreatment in a sample of adolescent schoolchildren and to investigate associations between maltreatment types and anxiety and depressive symptoms, sociodemographic variables, and risk behaviors. The study also identified which variables were the greatest predictors of anxiety and depressive symptoms.

We conducted a cross-sectional study with a sample of 654 school students aged 11 to 17 years. We collected sociodemographic data and administered the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS-47) to measure anxiety and depressive symptoms as well as the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) to evaluate maltreatment and adverse experiences such as abuse and negligence during childhood and adolescence. Statistical analyses were conducted to estimate correlations between sociodemographic data, anxiety, depression, and types of maltreatment. A regression analysis was also conducted to identify maltreatment types that predict psychological symptoms.

Emotional abuse and emotional neglect were the most prevalent types of maltreatment. Statistically, emotional abuse was the maltreatment type most strongly correlated with depression and anxiety and tended to co-occur with other types of maltreatment. Additionally, emotional and sexual abuse were the greatest predictors of anxiety and depression in adolescents.

The above results reinforce the findings of previous studies in terms of understanding the effects of maltreatment. They identify emotional abuse as the main predictor of depressive and anxiety symptoms.


Maltreatment; depression; anxiety; mental health; adolescence

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