A new study has highlighted the impact domestic violence can have on the mental health of women.
According to the findings, as well as their physical injuries, victims of domestic abuse are at an increased risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and psychotic symptoms.
UK and Canadian researchers monitored more than 1,000 mothers over a 10-year period. None of the participants had a history of depression at the start of the study.
They were interviewed multiple times during the 10-year period to assess their mental health and to see if they had ever suffered violence at the hands of their partners. During this time, more than one-third of the women said they had suffered some kind of violence, such as being hit with an object.
The study found that adult victims of domestic violence were more likely to have been abused as children. However even when this was taken into account, adult victims were still twice as likely to suffer from depression.
These women were also three times more likely to develop schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions.
"Domestic violence is unacceptable because of the injuries it causes. We have shown that these injuries are not only physical, they can also be psychological, as they increase the risk of depression and psychotic symptoms," commented one of the researchers, Prof Louise Arseneault, of King's College London. "
She said that that healthcare professionals need to be ‘very aware of the possibility that women who experience mental health problems may also be the victims of domestic violence and vice versa'.
"Given the prevalence of depression in these victims, we need to prevent these situations and take action. These acts of violence do more than leave physical damage, they leave psychological scars as well," Prof Arseneault added.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Depression and Anxiety.
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