Document Type

Social Sciences


Childhood maltreatment compromises healthy development, impacts neurobiology, and is associated with lasting alterations to emotional perception, processing, and regulation. Most significantly, childhood maltreatment increases the risk for later development of emotional disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD). The stress associated with both childhood maltreatment and MDD can lead to lasting alterations to the fronto-limbic circuitry. Using functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, researchers have observed hippocampal atrophy and amygdala hyperresponsiveness in participants who’ve experienced both childhood maltreatment and MDD. Furthermore, researchers have also observed increased connectivity between the hippocampus and amygdala in victims of childhood maltreatment. Because childhood maltreatment and MDD exert similar neurobiological effects, it is likely that childhood maltreatment promotes the development and maintenance of MDD while causing a more severe illness course. This literature review is of value due to the great prevalence and pervasiveness of both childhood maltreatment and MDD in today’s world.