Troubled relationships may double depression and anxiety risks

In a new study, researchers found that some forms of domestic violence double victims’ risk of depression and anxiety disorders later in life.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Queensland.

The study found many victims of intimate partner violence at 21 showed signs of mental illness at the age of 30, with women more likely to develop depression and men varying anxiety disorders.

Intimate partner violence classifies physical abuse as pushing, shoving and smacking.

The team also found the number of men and women who experience intimate partner violence was very similar, leading them to believe couples are more likely to abuse each other.

People generally don’t end up in the hospital or a shelter, but there is a serious mental burden from this type of abuse.

The research showed defacto couples and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to be involved in these types of abusive relationships.

Emotional abuse involves comments that make the person feel worthless.

Then there is harassment—a constant and distressing nagging that may have long-term consequences for those on the receiving end.

The team says it also raises the question, to what extent is this type of violent behavior not just a characteristic of the relationship the couple has with each other, but with other people around them and possibly their children.

There is a range of treatment and counseling programs available for couples and families to try and improve the way they relate to one another.

One author of the study is UQ researcher Emeritus Professor Jake Najman.

The study is published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

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