The relationship between sensory processing patterns, alexithymia, traumatic childhood experiences, and quality of life among patients with unipolar and bipolar disorders

Gianluca Serafini, Xenia Gonda, Maurizio Pompili, Zoltan Rihmer, Mario Amore, Batya Engel-Yeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Several studies documented the involvement of sensory perception in emotional processes. The long-term consequences of traumatic experiences and alexithymia have been demonstrated as well. However, the role of extreme sensory processing patterns, traumatic childhood experiences, and alexithymia has not been thoroughly examined in major affective disorders. The present study aimed to: (1) compare unipolar/bipolar patients with regard to their sensory processing patterns, alexithymia, childhood traumatic experiences and quality of life; (2) examine the correlations between sensory processing patterns and childhood traumatic experiences; (3) investigate the relative contribution of diagnostic groups (unipolar/bipolar), sensory processing patterns, alexithymia, and childhood traumatic experiences in predicting quality of life. The sample included 336 participants, 197 with unipolar and 139 with bipolar disorder. All participants completed the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP), Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)-II, and Short Form 12 Health Survey version 2 (SF-12). Bipolar patients showed significantly higher physical neglect, emotional abuse, and emotional neglect compared with unipolar patients. Both in unipolar and bipolar groups, lower registration of sensory input as well as hypersensitivity correlated with enhanced childhood trauma events. Reduced sensory sensitivity accounted for 11% of the variance in physical health composite score (PCS) of SF-12 whereas reduced depression accounted for 8% of the variance in mental health composite score (MCS). Furthermore, elevated MCS was predicted by depression, physical and emotional neglect. Sensory processing patterns and childhood traumatic experiences may specifically characterize individuals with major affective disorders and play a role in the prediction of their quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Volume62
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Xenia Gonda is recipient of the Janos Bolyai Research Fellowship of the Hungarian Academy of Science.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Childhood traumatic experiences
  • Major affective disorders
  • Quality of life
  • Sensory processing disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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