Depression, suicide and domestic violence

Depression and suicide are responsible for a substantial burden of disease globally. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been looking at the evidence from lots of studies which suggests that not only is domestic violence partner associated with increased risk of depression, but also that people with mental disorders are at increased risk of violence. The researchers aimed to investigate the extent to which domestic violence is associated with depression and suicide attempts, and vice versa, in both women and men.

Their findings, published in the PLOS Medicine journal, suggest that women who are exposed to domestic violence are at increased risk of subsequent depression and that women who are depressed are more likely to be at risk of violence in the home.

They also provide evidence of an association between domestic violence from male partners and subsequent suicide attempts by women. The present study provide little evidence for similar relationships among men.

These findings have two important implications. First, they suggest that preventing violence against women has the potential to reduce the global burden of disease related to depression and suicide. Second, they suggest that counsellors and other therapists should pay attention to past experiences of violence and the risk of future violence when treating women who present with symptoms of depression.

These findings are supported by the client experience of members of the East Sussex Counsellors group to which I belong. Depression and suicidal feelings are certainly all too common among clients coming for counselling in Hastings and other parts of East Sussex. From our experience in working with women clients, there does  seem to be a close link between the domestic abuse and violence which they have suffered and their feelings of depression.


added at 12:09am on 12th September 2013

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