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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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88. Early Life Trauma and the Association with Chronic Internalizing Disorders in OEF/OIF Veterans

Adverse childhood experiences (ACE), originally defined as “abuse and household dysfunction during childhood” prior to age 18, are well-known to have lasting impacts into adulthood in the forms of both physical and mental health. Effects can even be seen in brain developmental differences, specific to enduring changes in the stress response as well as the nervous and immune systems. ACEs are relatively common and are seen in higher rates among veterans. However, little is understood of how these early life experiences impact late-life health and functioning specific to veterans who have also experienced combat. Even less is known of how early life traumas and adversity, compounded with the traumas of war, are expressed and clinically presented in the long-term functioning of combat veterans. In a study of 168 OEF/OIF/OND veterans, we conducted a medical chart review of documented instances of ACEs by utilizing the ACE Questionnaire to collect data in references to specific instances. A multivariate analysis of variance was used to compare the presence and absence of ACE scores and their relationships to current symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and alcohol use. Our analysis demonstrated a relationship between individuals with symptoms of chronic PTSD and depression, and a history of at least one ACE. This review calls for the need of a more-rigorous measure of early life traumas as well as the consideration of early life trauma in the medical and psychological assessments and treatments of combat veterans.

Cassandra Fleming
Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Kristina Nazarova
Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Clare Hansen
Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Nicholas Davenport
Minneapolis VA Medical Center; University of Minnesota


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