April 6, 2009

Female abuse linked to severe mental illness

Dara Gantly

dara.gantly@imt.ie

Women with severe mental illness are more likely to have been abused in childhood than the general population, new research suggests. But the same association has not been found in men.

Researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, believe their findings point to differences in the way boys and girls respond to traumatic and upsetting experiences.

The study, published in the April issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, compared two groups of adults. All the participants were aged between 16 and 64, and lived in either south-east London or Nottingham.

Those in the first group had experienced psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and received treatment for depression, mania or schizophrenia. Those in the second group had no mental health problems, and acted as a control. Both groups were asked whether they experienced physical or sexual abuse during their childhood.

Women in the cases group were approximately three times more likely to report severe physical abuse during childhood than women in the control group. In contrast, there was no evidence of an association in male participants.

Posted in News on 03 April 2009

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