A Drive For Redemption: Relationship Quality As a Mediator Linking Childhood Maltreatment to Symptoms of Social Anxiety and Depression

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Child and Family Studies


Childhood maltreatment is associated with mental health problems across the life course and depression and social anxiety are two of the more common problems. Given the interpersonal nature of childhood maltreatment, adult romantic relationships have also been a keen interest. It has been suggested that the interpersonal relationships may mediate the relationship between maltreatment and adult mental health; however, little research has examined the mediating role of adult romantic relationships. This omission misses an opportunity to advance empirical understanding as well as clinical intervention. To address this gap, the current study utilized a sample of 785 adults using two waves of data from the study of Midlife of Development in the United States to examine relationship quality as a mediator linking childhood maltreatment to adult depressive and social anxiety symptoms. Interpretation of structural equation models indicated that there were significant indirect effects from childhood maltreatment to both symptoms of depressive and social anxiety through relationship quality. Results of post hoc analysis suggested that gender did not moderate any direct or indirect paths. In light of the significant indirect effects, relationship quality may be a point of intervention. Having a high-quality romantic relationship can provide a corrective experience for adults who were maltreated in childhood, thereby decreasing symptoms of depression and social anxiety.

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Journal of Adult Development



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