Women who suffer domestic abuse are almost three times as likely to develop mental illness, compared to those who haven’t been in abusive relationships. This is the finding of new research by the University of Birmingham.
The study also looked at whether women with a history of mental illness were more likely to end up in abusive relationships and found that they were also nearly three times as likely to suffer domestic abuse. It’s the first research of its kind in the UK, looking at the relationship between mental illness both before and after domestic abuse.
Using data collected by GPs around the UK between 1995 and 2017, the researchers identified 18,547 women who had suffered domestic abuse. A control group of 74,188 women of a similar age was also established.
By comparing the information about their mental health, the university found that women who experience domestic abuse have triple the risk of developing depression or a serious mental health condition, and twice the risk of developing anxiety, compared to women who don’t experience domestic abuse.
Dr Beena Rajkumar, co-chair of the Women’s Mental Health Special Interest Group, Royal College of Psychiatrists, stressed that the research “highlights the two-way relationship between abuse and mental illness, including serious mental illness”.
She added that it “carries a very important warning that we are missing opportunities to detect abuse that is happening all over the country today”.
Last month, research by charity Hestia revealed that 47 per cent of millennials had witnessed domestic abuse during their childhood and that this often led to mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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