Childhood traumatic experiences of patients with bipolar disorder type i and type II

Gabriele Sani, Gianfranco Spalletta, Emanuela Danese, Alessio Simonetti, Elisa Ambrosi, Gloria Angeletti, Denise Erbuto, Paolo Girardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


Background Childhood trauma is an important environmental stressor associated with bipolar disorders (BD). It is still not clear if it is differently distributed between BD I and BD II. Therefore, the aim of this research was to investigate the distribution patterns of childhood trauma in BD I and BD II. In this perspective, we also studied the relationship between childhood trauma and suicidality. Methods We assessed 104 outpatients diagnosed with BD I (n=58) or BD II (n=46) according to DSM-IV-TR criteria and 103 healthy controls (HC) matched for age, sex and education level. History of childhood trauma was obtained using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Results All patients with BD had had more severe traumatic childhood experiences than HC. Both BD I and BD II patients differed significantly from HC for trauma summary score and emotional abuse. BD I patients differed significantly from HC for sexual abuse, and BD II differed from HC for emotional neglect. BD I and BD II did not significantly differ for any type of trauma. Suicide attempts were linked to both emotional and sexual abuse in BD I and only to emotional abuse in BD II. Emotional abuse was an independent predictor of lifetime suicide attempts in BD patients. Limitations The reliability of the retrospective assessment of childhood trauma experiences with the CTQ during adulthood may be influenced by uncontrolled recall bias. Conclusions The assessment of childhood trauma, which has great clinical importance because of its strong link with suicidality, can unveil slight differences between BD subtypes and HC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-97
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Abuse
  • Childhood trauma
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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