Putting adversity in perspective: purpose in life moderates the link between childhood emotional abuse and neglect and adulthood depressive symptoms

Andree Hartanto*, Jose C. Yong, Sean T. H. Lee, Wee Qin Ng, Eddie M. W. Tong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Childhood emotional abuse and neglect is linked with a host of adverse outcomes later in life, including depression. However, potential psychological resources that may mitigate the adverse outcomes of childhood emotional abuse and neglect are not well-understood.

Aims: Drawing from the insight that having a sense of purpose can help individuals deal with setbacks and difficulties better, we propose that purpose in life can also help sufferers of childhood maltreatment cope more effectively and reduce the onset of depressive symptoms.

Methods: Participants were drawn from two large, nationally representative studies comprising a total of 3664 respondents. Purpose in life, childhood emotional abuse and neglect, and depressive symptoms were measured with validated scales.

Results: We found convergent evidence that purpose in life attenuates the effect of childhood emotional abuse and neglect on subsequent depressive symptoms across a range of measures of mood and depression.

Conclusions: The current study highlights the important role played by purpose in life in building resilience, coping against adverse life events, and psychological well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-482
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Volume29
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes

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