Associations of adverse childhood experiences with psychological problems in adulthood. Literature review

Rugilė Klimaitė1, Marija Vaitkevičiūtė1, Darius Leckauskas2

1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Academy of Medicine, Kaunas, Lithuania

2 Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Department of Psychiatry


The aim- to find out how adverse childhood experiences are related to psychological problems in adulthood. Research method- systematic literature review was conducted. Articles, describing assocations of adverse childhood experiences with psychological problems in adulthood, were selected. The review was done using the electronic database Pub-Med (Medline). Results- individuals who experienced sexual abuse before the age of 12 were at higher risk of developing depression, and those who experienced it from the age of 12 developed severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The risk of suicide among young people was found to be 3,7 times higher for those who had experienced emotional neglect in childhood compared to those who had not. Patients with a higher negative experience were associated with at least four types of harmful behaviors (e.g., use of laxatives or diuretics, self-induced vomiting) per month. Difficulties experienced at a young age have also been shown to be associated with the mood disorders. Conclusions- the environment and conditions in which a child grew up shape his / her behavior and character traits, which help to adapt to the difficulties of life in adulthood. Early negative life experiences are increasingly recognized as health determinants in later life. Childhood psychological and physical violence increases the risk of depression, eating disorders and other psychological illnesses in adulthood. It can be said that a safe environment for a child is a foundation that helps maintain a healthy mental state in the future.

Keywords: adverse experiences, childhood, psychological problems.