Adverse Childhood Experiences, the Serotonergic System, and Adult Depressive and Anxiety Disorders


A recent study featuring PISC Executive Committee Member Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, synthesizes previous studies to analyze adverse childhood experiences, the serotonergic system, depressive disorders, and anxiety disorders in adulthood. Twenty-eight published studies from 2008 to 2018 from PubMed, CINAHL, and PsychINFO databases are included. Participants have a mean age of 19 and 40 years upon analysis. Results indicate that various genetic polymorphisms in the serotonergic signaling system moderate the association between ACEs and depression. Moreover, serotonin reuptake inhibitors with a high affinity for serotonin transporters often result in poor treatment outcomes for patients with a history of Adverse Childhood Events. The team concludes that “additional research is needed in order to further define the role that serotonergic genes play in the association between ACEs, depression, and anxiety disorders in adulthood.”


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