Emotional dysregulation mediates the impact of childhood trauma on psychological distress: First Italian data during the early phase of COVID-19 outbreak

Daniela Pia Rosaria Chieffo, Luigi Janiri, Gabriele Sani, Maria Pepe, Marzia Molinaro, Marco Di Nicola, D. Janiri, L. Moccia, L. Dattoli, Martin V. De, A. Fiorillo

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivista

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic represents an unprecedented traumatic stressor to mental health. Psychological distress is considered a reliable proxy for psychopathology and can be negatively influenced by childhood trauma through sensitization effects. Emotion dysregulation has been proposed as a potential mediator of this mechanism. We aimed to test this hypothesis in a national Italian sample assessed in the early phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. Methods: We investigated the relationship between psychological distress and childhood trauma in 500 healthy participants assessed through a survey-based study, after the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic lockdown in Italy. Levels of psychological distress and history of childhood trauma were obtained using the Kessler-10 (K10) and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, respectively. We used bootstrapped mediation analysis to test the mediator role of emotional dysregulation, measured through the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, on the effect of childhood trauma on psychological distress. Results: In total, 190 (38%) reported psychological distress related to the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. Individuals with psychological distress experienced more childhood trauma, specifically emotional abuse (F = 23.51, df = 1, p < 0.001) and neglect (F = 10.98, df = 1, p = 0.001). After modelling the effect of emotional dysregulation, the impact of childhood trauma on coronavirus disease 2019-related psychological distress resulted in indirect effects and mediated by deficits in emotion regulation mechanisms (bootstrapped lower level of confidence interval = 0.345, upper level of confidence interval = 0.598). Conclusion: Childhood trauma is associated with increased vulnerability to the stressful effect of the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak. Our data suggest that emotional dysregulation may represent a dimension mediating the impact of childhood trauma on coronavirus disease 2019-related psychological distress and may be considered as specific target for interventions aiming at empowering resilience.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)000486742199880-N/A
RivistaAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
DOI
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021

Keywords

  • childhood trauma
  • psychological distress
  • emotional dysregulation
  • COVID-19

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