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Fam Pract. 1996 Feb;13(1):1-11.

A troubled youth: relations with somatization, depression and anxiety in adulthood.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, University of Limburg, Maastricht, Netherlands.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Childhood experiences profoundly affect later functioning as an adult. Family practitioners are well-placed to discover the links between childhood troubles and later somatization, depression or anxiety.

OBJECTIVES:

We aimed to study the interrelation of somatization, depressive and anxiety disorders in frequently attending patients in general practice; to investigate whether these problems are related to a childhood history of illness experiences, deprivation, life events and abuse; and to determine the independent contributions of these childhood factors to the prediction of adult somatization, depressive and anxiety disorders.

METHODS:

One hundred and six adult general practice patients with high consultation frequency were studied. Somatization was operationalized as a more comprehensive version of DSM-III-R somatization disorder (5 complaints; SSI 5/5). For depression (ever depressive and/or dysthymic) and anxiety (panic, phobias and/or generalized anxiety) DSM-III-R criteria were used. Using a structured questionnaire we assessed illness experiences, deprivation of parental care, abuse (sexual/physical) and other life events before age 19.

RESULTS:

The overlap between somatization, depression and anxiety was largely accounted for by 16 patients with a triple problem: somatization and depression and anxiety. Somatization was specifically related to deprivation, depression to other life events. Abuse (prevalence 16%) independently predicted psychiatric problems in general. Youth experiences before age 12 were most important.

CONCLUSIONS:

The high prevalence of triple problems suggests a need to reconsider concepts like somatic anxiety and anxious depression. The specificity of the relation between deprivation and somatization and of the relation between other life events and depression indicates that distinct causal mechanisms (in youth) contribute to these problems.

PMID:
8671097
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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