There is strong evidence that the experience of several adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is a risk factor for higher anxiety and depression symptoms severity among adolescents. Defense mechanisms may influence the link between exposure to ACEs and anxiety and depression symptoms severity. We analyzed the associations between direct and indirect exposure to ACEs and anxiety and depression symptoms in Kenyan adolescents and explored the mediating role of defense mechanisms in the associations between direct and indirect exposure to anxiety and depression symptoms severity. A sample of 475 Kenyan adolescents (M = 16.4; SD = 1.4) completed validated self-report questionnaires. Serial multiple mediation models were tested by conducting a structural equation modeling employing Preacher and Hayes’ (2008) procedures. Higher direct exposure to ACEs was related to higher levels of depression symptoms and higher indirect exposure to ACEs was related to higher levels of anxiety symptoms. Importantly, higher direct exposure to ACEs was significantly linked to high immature defense mechanisms levels, which in turn were linked with high anxiety and depression symptoms. High levels of immature defense mechanisms might aggravate anxiety and depression symptoms, which might be seen as a possible psychological distress mechanism subsequent to exposure to multiple ACES in African adolescents.
Paulo Ferrajão, Bárbara Tourais & Ask Elklit (2023) Attachment Anxiety and Dissociation Mediate Associations Between Polytrauma and Somatization in Kenyan Adolescents, Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, DOI: 10.1080/15299732.2023.2231958
Paulo Ferrajão, Inês Faria & Ask Elklit (2023) World Assumptions Mediate Associations Between Polytrauma With Psychological Symptoms in Kenyan Adolescents, Journal of Loss and Trauma, Doi: 10.1080/15325024.2023.2217035
Ferrajão, P., Dias, J., & Elklit, A. (2022). Defense mechanisms mediate associations between exposure to adverse childhood experiences and anxiety and depression in Kenyan adolescents. Traumatology. Doi: 10.1037/trm0000426