We hypothesized that child abuse (CA) will be associated with decreased social (e.g., high social support, low social conflict) and personal (e.g., self-efficacy, self esteem) resources in adulthood, which in turn, would increase risk for current depression and PTSD symptoms. Participants were inner-city women (N = 650). CA significantly predicted PTSD, and decreased social and personal resources, but did not predict depression. Social resources, but not personal resources directly predicted PTSD and depression. Social resources significantly mediated the CA-PTSD and CA-depression relationships. Personal resources impacted depression and PTSD only through their significant relationship with social resources. Ethnic differences on these models were also observed. Depression and PTSD mediated the association between CA and resources, in reversed models. Overall, results suggest a bidirectional relationship between resources and psychopathology, which may be mutually reinforcing and cyclically related over time.
Dr. Ana-Maria Vranceanu is a clinical and research psychologist with expertise in the area of mood disorders, PTSD and pain. She is currently working as a staff psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She is also an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.