A new study highlights that besides physical injuries, survivors of domestic violence are also at a greater risk of mental health problems such as depression and psychotic symptoms.
The study, published in Depression and Anxiety
, showed that women who were victims of domestic violence had a three times higher risk of developing schizophrenia-like psychotic symptoms.
"We studied the impact of domestic violence on the risk of mental health problems, particularly depression," said first author Isabelle Ouellet-Morin, professor at the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal in Canada. "We also studied the role of certain factors from the victims' personal history, such as childhood abuse and economic poverty," Ouellet-Morin added.
Over 1,000 mothers participated in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study over 10 years.
Only those with no previous history of depression were considered for the study. Over this decade, the researchers conducted multiple interviews to determine whether the participants had suffered violence from their spouses and whether they suffered from mental health disorders.
The findings showed that more than a third of the women reported suffering violence from their spouses. They were twice as likely to suffer from depression, even when controlling for the impact of childhood abuse.
Domestic violence had an impact not just on mood but on other mental health aspects as well. The risk doubled for women who were also victims of childhood abuse.