Early life abuse (ELA) is a risk factor for depression and interpersonal problems in adulthood. Frequent exposure to stress early in life leads to enduring changes in neurobiological systems that regulate stress and emotion. In particular, chronic low-grade inflammation—resulting from sustained activation of the immune system in response to stress—may be a key biological mechanism that increases vulnerability for these problems in adulthood. This study will evaluate Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as a potential treatment that targets stress-related inflammatory responses implicated in depression and interpersonal dysfunction in ELA. This project is an add-on study to a randomized controlled trial of MBSR (vs. Social Support) in stress-sensitive women with and without a history of ELA. Pre- and post-treatment, we will evaluate depressive symptoms, interpersonal functioning, and inflammatory reactivity to a psychosocial stressor. We hypothesize that MBSR will lead to greater reductions in inflammatory reactivity to stress, as well as greater reductions in depression and interpersonal problems, and that these changes will be especially pronounced among women with ELA. This work will provide critical causal information about the unique potential of mindfulness practice to normalize inflammatory, depressive, and interpersonal function in female victims of childhood abuse.

Tory Eisenlohr-Moul, PhD

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Grantee

MORE

Erin Walsh, PhD

University of Kentucky

Grantee

MORE

MENU