No Link Between OCD Severity and Adverse Childhood Events

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Having gone through adverse childhood experiences did not impact the severity of symptoms in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), according to a new study.

Agnes van Minnen, PhD, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands, and colleagues examined data from a Dutch study in which 282 patients with DSM-IV-diagnosed OCD took part in. Adverse child events included physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing interparental violence, maternal dysfunction, paternal dysfunction, and early separation from a parent.

None of the childhood events were linked to OCD symptom severity or chronicity, the researchers reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. However, a linear regression analysis indicated that the events were related to comorbidity in patients with OCD (P < .001), in particular to comorbid affective disorders (P < .01), substance use disorders (P < .01), and eating disorders (P < .01), but not to comorbid anxiety disorders.

“This study was the first to reveal evidence for a relationship between ACEs and comorbidity in patients with OCD,” the researchers concluded. “Conclusions about trauma-relatedness of OCD based on studies finding higher trauma rates or severity among patients with OCD than among healthy controls, should be critically reconsidered, since presence of comorbidity might account for these differences.”

No Link Betweeen OCD Severity and Adverse Childhood Events
No Link Betweeen OCD Severity and Adverse Childhood Events

Studies on the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and obsessive-compulsive disorder symptom severity are scarce. Available studies leave a considerable degree of uncertainty. The present study examines the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and symptom severity, chronicity, and comorbidity in a sample of patients with OCD.

Baseline data of the Netherlands Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Association (NOCDA) study, in which 382 referred patients with DSM-IV–diagnosed OCD participated, were analyzed. Adverse childhood experiences (physical abuse, sexual abuse, witnessing interparental violence, maternal dysfunction, paternal dysfunction, and early separation from a parent) were measured using a structured interview.
 

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