Does Spirituality Moderate the Relationship between Child Maltreatment and Adult Men and Women’s Social Anxiety, Depression and Loneliness

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Adults who were maltreated in childhood are at increased risk for depression, social anxiety, and loneliness in adulthood and spirituality may be a protective factor. The current study will extend research by examining spirituality as a moderator of childhood maltreatment severity and adult depressive symptoms, social anxiety symptoms, and loneliness. Further, men and women were examined separately to discern if spirituality has similar or dissimilar effects across gender. Data are from the biomarker study within the study of Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) refresher cohort. The study was cross-sectional and included 853 adults (52.2% female). Using hierarchical regression, we found that spirituality moderated the relationship between women’s reports of maltreatment severity and depression, social anxiety, and loneliness. Contrastingly, spirituality did not moderate the relationship between childhood maltreatment and any of the mental health outcomes in men; however, spirituality was directly associated with lower levels of loneliness for men. Spirituality was associated with fewer symptoms of depression and social anxiety as well as less loneliness in women who were maltreated in childhood and could be a source of resilience.

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Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma

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