Depressive psychopathology and adverse childhood experiences in eating disorders

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Purpose. - The aim of this paper was to investigate the diagnostic specificity of the self-critical and dependent depressive experiences in a clinical sample of eating disorder patients and to explore the impact of adverse childhood experiences on these dimensions of personality. Method. - A sample of 94 anorexic and 61 bulimic patients meeting DSM-IV criteria and 236 matched controls were assessed with the Depressive Experience Questionnaire (DEQ), the abridged version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the AMDP Life Events Inventory. Subjects presenting a major depression or a comorbid addictive disorder were excluded from the sample using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Results. - Anorexic and bulimic patients showed higher scores than controls on both self-criticism and dependency sub-scales of the DEQ. Bulimic patients scored significantly higher than anorexic patients on self-criticism and reported more adverse childhood experiences. Finally, negative life events correlated only with self-criticism in the whole sample. Discussion. - Differences in the DEQ Self-Criticism between anorexics and bulimics could not be accounted for by depression since bulimic patients did not show higher BDI levels compared to anorexic patients and depressive symptoms measured with the BDI were not found to be significant predictors of diagnostic grouping in a logistic multiple regression. Conclusion. - This study supports the diagnostic specificity of the dependent and self-critical depressive dimensions in eating disorders and strengthens previous research on the role of early experiences in the development of these disorders. © 2003 Éditions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.




Speranza, M., Atger, F., Corcos, M., Loas, G., Guilbaud, O., Stéphan, P., … Jeammet, P. (2003). Depressive psychopathology and adverse childhood experiences in eating disorders. European Psychiatry, 18(8), 377–383.

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