Female Domestic Abuse Victims And Depression

Mental health conditions are common these days, but many of these illnesses have yet to be thoroughly studied since they tend to have different triggers and causes. Although stress, traumatic childhood experiences, and other similar events are usually the main causes, being a victim of abuse is also known to be a major factor.

In general, being a victim of any kind of abuse is never really easy for anyone. Besides having to struggle with different kinds of symptoms, this can also lead to different kinds of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, etc.

A recent study conducted by Birmingham University reveals that individuals who have been victims of domestic abuse are more likely to develop mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Female Domestic Abuse Victims Thrice Likely to Develop Mental Illnesses

According to the study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, women who have been victims or experienced domestic abuse are three times or 49.

5 percent more likely to develop a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as compared to other women who have no records of abuse with 24.6 percent, reports the UK-based news website, The Independent.

‘Considering how common domestic abuse is, it is important to understand how strongly the two are connected and consider whether there are possible opportunities to improve the lives of women affected by domestic abuse,’ says Dr. Joht Singh Chandan, one of the study’s lead authors from the University of Birmingham.

The UK study was said to be the first to correlate the relationship between domestic abuse and mental health.

It was based on 18,547 women who had reported to their GP the domestic abuse they had experienced. In the end, results showed that it was two-directional: women who had been to their GP about mental health illnesses were three times more likely to report that they had been victims of domestic abuse at a later date, while the other population who also reported to have been victims of abuse already had mental health illnesses beforehand.

In their study which analyzed reports from 1995 to 2017, it was also revealed that the survivors were twice as likely to develop anxiety, thrice as likely to develop depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder — and all the while twice as likely to need prescripted medication, according to the international digital media news organization, BBC.

Even though the researchers considered other potential factors such as the amount of alcohol they drink, whether or not they smoked, and their BMI (body mass index) count, the statistics stayed the same, with or without the added factors.

Under-reporting of Abuse

According to the reports, statistics show that one out of four women experiences domestic abuse during her lifetime, but the study saw that less than one out of 100 women were affected, which led the researchers to believe that there was a case of under-reporting in the issue.

In fact, The Guardian, a UK-based digital news media website, says that only 0.25 percent of the participants reported to their GP that they had been victims of abuse. The researchers believe that more actions could be taken by both local authorities and healthcare professionals to address the said issue, saying that women who have a background in domestic abuse should have better support in order to prevent mental health conditions from developing.

‘There does seem to be significant under-recording of domestic abuse within UK primary care. We are not saying that GPs should be asking the question more,’ says Dr. Chandan.

‘Screening and recording of domestic abuse needs to be a clear priority for public services so that more effective interventions for this group of vulnerable women can urgently be put in place,’ says Dr. Beena Rajkumar, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She believes that domestic abuse plays a ‘devastating impact on a woman’s mental health.’

Preventing Women From Being Victims of Abuse and Developing Mental Health Conditions

Professor Louise Howard from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King’s College, London, who was not involved in the study, believes that Chandan’s team was able to get across an important message, despite it being observational and unable to provide conclusive evidence on certain causes.

‘Domestic violence and abuse is a serious public health and public mental health problem,’ Howard says. ‘Health practitioners who see women with mental health problems in primary or secondary care, therefore, need to be trained how to ask routinely about domestic violence and abuse, and how to safely respond,’ she adds, according to BBC.

The Independent writes that encouraging the police to share reports of domestic abuse with the NHS is a great way to improve reporting, and implementing policies to prevent abuse along with earlier intervention is the best possible solution for victims.

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