Full statistical mediation of the relationship between trauma and depressive symptoms

Patricia J. Place, Shichun Ling, Lawrence Patihis
Published Online:
12 May 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue 2

Additional Options

Owing to the potentially devastating effects of trauma‐induced depression, explaining the relationship between trauma and depressive symptoms is important. In this study, we measured lifelong exposure to potentially traumatic events and depressive symptoms in 370‐female undergraduates. We also measured anxiety, past negative time perspective and dissociation as potential mediators. Trauma exposure and depressive symptoms were related with a small but significant effect size (r = .16). Trauma was not associated with dissociation. We found that past negative time perspective and anxiety were full statistical mediators of this trauma‐depressive symptoms relationship. These two mediators combined accounted for all of the variance in that association. Anxiety accounted for more of the variance than past negative time perspective. A proposed explanation is that trauma both affectively elevates anxiety and cognitively creates an enduring focus on the events. Chronic anxiety and a past negative time perspective may lead to depression over time. The clinical implications are possible explanations as to why some treatments work.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science