After Violence Comes Depression

Depression found in people that had experienced intimate partner violence

(RxWiki News) Women experiencing intimate partner violence may be at risk for depression afterwards. Men aren’t exempt from this association either.

A recent review looked at several studies about intimate partner violence and depression.

The results showed that both men and women were at greater risk for depression if they had experienced intimate partner violence.

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Karen M. Devries, PhD, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in London, led an investigation into depression and intimate partner violence.

According to the authors, depressive disorders have been the second leading, and self-inflicted injuries have been the seventh leading, cause of global disease burden in women between the ages of 15 and 44.

The authors reported that intimate partner violence (physical abuse by a spouse or romantic partner) has been reported by 15 percent to 71 percent of women over the course of their lifetimes.

For this review, 16 long-term studies that included 36,163 participants were used. All of the studies included women, four of the studies included men and four of the studies included high school-aged teens.

The researchers selected studies that measured physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, symptoms of lifetime depression and suicide attempts.

The results of this study showed that intimate partner violence was associated with depressive symptoms in 12 of the 16 studies. Based on data from six of the studies, women who had experienced intimate partner violence were twice as likely to have depressive symptoms.

For women only, having depressive symptoms doubled the risk for experiencing later intimate partner violence.

For men, intimate partner violence also increased the odds of developing depressive symptoms, but previous depressive symptoms did not increase the odds of experiencing later intimate partner violence.  

Suicide attempts were higher in women that had experienced intimate partner violence, but not in men.

“Further research is needed to explore why having depressive symptoms can lead to incidental violence—it may be that young women with depressive symptoms are predisposed to choose partners who use violence,” said the study authors.

The researchers noted that antidepressant medications could interfere with a woman’s ability to leave a violent situation.

The authors suggested that efforts should be examined to help prevent intimate partner violence, which can lead to depressive symptoms and suicide attempts. 

The authors further suggested using tailored interventions for women experiencing intimate partner violence that also address possible future depression and suicidal behavior after the women exit the violent situation.

This study was published in May in PLOS ONE.

The Economic and Social Research Council helped support funding for this project. No conflicts of interest were declared.

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Review Date: 
May 7, 2013