A recent mental health study conducted by Dr. Michelle Hindin has revealed that adolescents who witness domestic violence between their parents are at an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms than their peers. Approximately 50% of all the respondents reported witnessing parental domestic violence.
Alarmingly, 1 in 10 male adolescents and 1 in 5 female adolescents wished that they had died in the four weeks prior to the survey. According to estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide, suicide deserves the credit of accounting for third leading cause of death among adolescents.
The importance of adolescent mental health issues is particularly significant in a developing world that houses over 1 billion adolescents. The study is the first of it's kind to explore the relationship between parental domestic violence and adolescent mental health, the results of which can be seen in the American Journal of Public Health, April 2006 edition.
The researchers surveyed more than 2,051 young men and women between the age of 17 and 19 years. The study participants were questioned regarding instances of domestic violence between parents and its association with depressive symptoms, if any. Headaches, improper digestion, sleeping trouble, worry, loneliness and suicidal thoughts were regarded to be symptoms of depression.
The need for medical attention as a consequence of domestic violence was found to produce most depressive symptoms in young women while mutual violence between the parents was associated with most depressive symptoms among young men.
The researchers have urged that mental health and domestic violence issues should be viewed as a serious public health concern. Health care measures should be focused at prevention of parental domestic violence for effective treatment of depressive symptoms in affected adolescents.