Coping as a Mediator of the Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences and Symptoms of Anxiety/Depression in Adolescence
Objectives. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) refer to childhood traumatic events and are significant predictors of psychopathology. ACEs include abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) and neglect (physical, emotional). Coping and emotion regulation involve controlled responses to stress and may mediate the association between ACEs and psychopathology, however, little research has studied the relations between maltreatment and specific coping and emotion regulation strategies. The present study investigated ACEs, symptoms of anxiety/depression in adolescents, and coping with stress as reflected in three types of coping – primary control coping, secondary control coping, and disengagement coping. Method. Ninety-seven adolescents with a variety of ACE exposure completed self-report measures of ACE exposure, coping, and symptoms of anxiety/depression, while their caregivers completed these same measures about the adolescents. Pearson correlations, linear multiple regression, and path analyses were used to test associations. Results ACE exposure, coping, and symptoms of anxiety/depression were significantly correlated. The total indirect effect of ACE exposure on symptoms of anxiety/depression through all types of coping (primary control, secondary control, and disengagement) was significant (β = 0.04, 0.16, 0.08). Conclusion All types of coping are essential factors in understanding the association between ACE exposure and symptoms of anxiety/depression. Coping skills exist as potential targets for intervention to reduce the risk of anxiety/depression in adolescents exposed to ACEs.