Child abuse and neglect may affect an individual's physical and mental health in both direct and indirect ways. Maltreatment during infancy and early childhood has been shown to negatively affect early brain development and in turn contribute to negative behavioral health outcomes into adolescence and adulthood. The immediate emotional effects of abuse and neglect—isolation, fear, and an inability to trust—can translate into lifelong consequences, including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties, as well as increased risk for developing an addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Attachment Style, Adult Well-Being, and Childhood Trauma
Summarizes research integrating self-report and objective measures elucidating the relationship between child maltreatment and negative mental and physical health outcomes over time.
How Childhood Abuse Could Impact Your Health
Lists health conditions associated with mental, physical, and emotional childhood abuse; strategies for healing emotional scars; and steps to prevent health effects from abuse.
|Series Title||Issue Briefs|
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 443KB)
Childhood Emotional Maltreatment and Mental Disorders: Results From a Nationally Representative Adult Sample From the United States
Taillieu, Brownridge, Sareen, & Afifi (2016)
Child Abuse & Neglect, 59
Focuses on the long-term impact of emotional abuse and neglect on mental health. The article indicated emotionally abusive acts increased the odds of lifetime diagnoses of mood and personality disorders.
The Devastating Clinical Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect: Increased Disease Vulnerability and Poor Treatment Response in Mood Disorders
Lippard & Nemeroff (2019)
American Journal of Psychiatry
Discusses physiological reactions to childhood maltreatment that contribute to the long-term mental health disparities observed within the population.
Developmental Trauma Disorder: The Effects of Child Abuse and Neglect
Defines developmental trauma disorder (DTD) and its relationship to posttraumatic stress disorder. The article discusses support and treatment options for victims of DTD.
Paradise Lost: The Neurobiological and Clinical Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect (PDF - 3,246 KB)
Summarizes the changes to neuroendocrine and neurotransmitter systems that are associated with child maltreatment as well as alterations in brain areas that affect mood. This article also discusses genetic changes that can lead to major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder for those who have experienced child maltreatment.
Characteristics of Child Maltreatment and Adolescent Marijuana Use: A Prospective Study
Dubowitz & Thompson & Arria & English & Metzger & Kotch (2016)
Child Maltreatment, 21(1)
Examines the relationship between maltreatment type and severity and adolescent marijuana use among youth in out-of-home care.
Child Maltreatment and the Development of Substance Use and Disorder
Cicchetti & Handley (2019)
Neurobiology of Stress, 10
Discusses the intersecting neurobiological and behavioral pathways created by child maltreatment that contribute to future substance use disorders.
The Link Between Child Abuse and Substance Abuse
American Addiction Centers
Summarizes research examining childhood maltreatment as a predictor of future substance use disorders and evidence-based treatments for these disorders.
Research Finds Substance Abuse Varies Widely in Association With Child Abuse, Neglect
Discusses the need to differentiate parental behaviors regarding child welfare policies of taking children from homes of parents with drug and alcohol addictions. The article promotes changing the assumption that drug and alcohol use lead to maltreatment and gives more consideration to the range of behaviors that drugs and alcohol elicit in individual parents.