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Child Abuse Linked to Certain Mental Disorders

by Dr. Simi Paknikar on  April 26, 2014 at 12:25 PM Health In Focus   - G J E 4
A Canadian study indicates a possible association between different types of child abuse and the development of certain mental disorders later in life.

Child Abuse Facts and Statistics
 Child Abuse Linked to Certain Mental Disorders
Child Abuse Linked to Certain Mental Disorders
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Child abuse is a common problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 3 million referrals of child maltreatment are received by state and local agencies in the United States every year.

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The situation in India is not quite different. According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, around two third of children in India are physically abused, and around half are sexually or emotionally abused. Most of these children do not report the matter to anyone.

A Canadian study, recently published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that nearly one-third of the study population was exposed to physical or sexual abuse or intimate partner violence during their childhood.

These various abuses were related to the development of several mental disorders later in life. The mental disorders studied were depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse/ dependence, drug abuse/dependence, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, phobia, learning disability, attention deficit disorder, eating disorder, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts. Data was obtained from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health.

While the men in the study were more commonly exposed to physical abuse, women were more commonly exposed to sexual abuse and intimate partner violence.

The study found that certain types of child abuse were more commonly associated with certain mental disorders. For example, obsessive-compulsive disorder was associated with sexual abuse, eating disorders with physical abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder and learning disability with sexual and physical abuse, and bipolar disorder with exposure to intimate partner violence and physical abuse. Drug abuse, suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts were associated with all three types of abuse.

Though the study found the association between various types of child abuse and the development of certain mental problems, it cannot definitely state that the mental disorders are caused by the abuse. Further research is necessary in this regard. However, the study does suggest that mental disorders can be reduced to a certain extent if child abuse is brought under control.

References:

1. Tracie O. Afif et al. Child abuse and mental disorders in Canada. CMAJ 2014. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.131792

2. http://www.cdc.gov/violencePrevention/childmaltreatment/

3. http://www.unicef.org/india/media_2892.htm

Source: Medindia
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