Child Sexual Abuse in the Etiology of Depression

Depression and Anxiety

Maniglio, Roberto
Pagination631 - 642
Publication LanguageResearch Report

A Systematic Review of Reviews

By Roberto Maniglio, Psy.D & Ph.D; Lecce, Italy


Despite a large amount of research, there is considerable controversy about the role that child sexual abuse plays in the etiology of depression. To prevent interpretative di?iculties, mistaken beliefs, or conusion among professionals who turn to this literature for guidance, this article addresses the best available scienti?c evidence on the topic, by providing a systematic review of the several reviews that have investigated the literature on the issue.


Seven databases were searched, supplemented with hand search of reference lists from retrieved papers. The author and a psychiatrist independently evaluated the eligibility of all studies identified, abstracted data, and assessed study quality. Disagreements were resolved by consensus.


Four reviews, including about 60,000 subjects from 160 studies and having no limitations that could invalidate their results, were analyzed.

There is evidence that child sexual abuse is a signi?cant, although general and nonspeci?c, risk factor for depression.

The relationship ranges from small-to-medium in magnitude and is moderated by sample source. Additional variables may either act independently to promote depression in people with a history of sexual abuse or interact with such traumatic experience to increase the likelihood of depression in child abuse survivors.


For all victims of abuse, programs should focus not only on treating symptoms, but also on reducing
additional risk factors. Depressed adults who seek psychiatric treatment should be enquired about early abuse within admission procedures.


Download the article in .PDF format by clicking here below.