Childhood maltreatment, emotional dysregulation, and psychiatric comorbidities

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Mental and Social Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Affect dysregulation, defined as the impaired ability to regulate or tolerate negative emotional states, has been associated with interpersonal trauma and posttraumatic stress. Affect-regulation difficulties play a role in many psychiatric conditions, including anxiety and mood disorders, and especially major depression in youth and bipolar disorder throughout the life span. Exposure to traumatic events and interpersonal trauma in childhood is associated with wide-ranging psychosocial, developmental, and medical impairments in children, adolescents, and adults, with emotional dysregulation being a core feature that may help to account for this heightened risk. In order to understand how the developmental effects of childhood maltreatment contribute to emotional dysregulation and psychiatric sequelae, we review emotional regulation and its developmental neurobiology, and examine the research evidence of associations between childhood trauma, emotional dysregulation, and psychiatric comorbidities in children, adolescents, and adults.


childhood maltreatment, comorbidity, emotional regulation/dysregulation, interpersonal trauma, posttraumatic stress, posttraumatic stress disorder

DOI of Published Version



Dvir Y, Ford JD, Hill M, Frazier JA. Childhood maltreatment, emotional dysregulation, and psychiatric comorbidities. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2014 May-Jun;22(3):149-61. doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000014. Review. PubMed PMID: 24704784; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4091823. Link to article on publisher's website

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Harvard review of psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID