A recent study done in the United States indicates that children may suffer from depression if they have experienced domestic violence. The findings from this study indicate that children who experience domestic abuse appear to cope with it to some degree but later on begin to show significant damage as a result of the trauma.

Child abuse is known to have a variety of negative consequences on children both immediately and for years after the abuse has been suffered. However depression ranks as one of the most common outcomes of child abuse with other problems such as substance abuse, anxiety and behavioral problems ranking highly among the problems experienced as well. The range of symptoms varies greatly depending on the severity of the abuse and the child’s age, gender, coping abilities and the ability to get help from family members to recover from the problems.

Researchers in the United States say that these findings means that there is hope for early detection of depression symptoms for adolescence thanks to this study. The study was done using an MRI scanning technique to look at the white matter in the brains of teenagers who had experienced forms of child abuse during their younger years.

The research indicated that the white matter in the brain of nineteen teenagers that had experienced significant trauma either sexually or physically before the age of ten or had been a witness to a domestic violence incident that continued to occur for 6 months or longer was impacted.

These teenagers in the study were also checked to make sure that they were not abusing alcohol or drugs at the time of the study. These teenagers were followed for more than 6 months or up to 5 years in order to obtain the study results.

The outcome is that the teenagers who had experienced the violence were more likely to develop issues with addiction or depressive disorders. Some of the teenagers in the study did not develop the depression symptoms during the study but after and some become addicted to substances following the study.

The other findings included the fact that researchers believer that the MRI scans could help doctors to pinpoint the depression symptoms earlier and help the young patients on a road to recovery much sooner. In addition the detection would allow for an intervention to take place more quickly.

Researchers are still unsure however of the pathways that lead to the disruption of the white matter in the brain as this is not yet understood. However it is known from the  study that those most affected did have significantly lower FA values. The FA value is the value that measure how efficient the white matter in the brain is. Some earlier studies had been done indicating the same effects on the white matter in the brain. However this study was the first to make the link between the decreased FA values in adolescent brains that have experienced abuse to the development of psychological problems later in life, such as depression.

2 thoughts on “Child Abuse & Depression

  1. Jules York

    I am an adult survivor of physical , emotional , sexual and neglect abuse. I am a 46 year old woman . I have seen so many doctors, phsycologsts and phsyciatrist’s . I have multiple addictions. I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and find that medication doesn’t completely help. I have attempted suicide twice. The last time I was on life support . I can’t function well. I struggle everyday with self hatred and shame. I can’t heal and I really want to. I have been researching for years and the only thing that I can conclude is the lack of treatment for this condition. I have minimal hope left and know I won’t live a long and productive life. I don’t want sympathy, but I would like some lasting treatment . I hope that this message reaches someone who understands it.
    Thanks for reading my thoughts Jules

  2. chris60

    It is reassuring that society is finally creating substantial care for those who suffered or continue to suffer from domestic violence and sexual assault. Treatment takes time, and it is best to keep looking if you find that your therapist or counsellor seems unable to understand your symptoms or help provide practical tips for self care as well as support and care during treatment. Personally, I was appalled to come across many psychiatrists who seem to delight in further traumatising or abusing their patients. Verbal abuse, sexual coercion, neglect and failure to offer therapy beyond drugs seemed prevalent amongst this group of supposedly “caring” professionals. Counsellors and specialist therapists provide far greater care and support, as well as encouring their clients without attempting to control their choices or dismiss them as “sick” and “weak” to promote a view of the treater as “healthy” and “strong”. Fortunately I now function well, take care to eat well and exercise, and can recognise unsafe situations or unsafe people that may trigger my stress. Unfortunately, abuse can feel normal or excusable to those who have grown up in violent homes. Ultimately, violence tends to be about power, and you best rob the abuser of his or her power by walking away rather than by fighting back or trying to change them. It is sad that victims continue to abuse themselves and suffer long after the actual abusive act is over. The best word of advice is to try to keep yourself safe by minimising risky behaviour and practicing common sense avoidance of dangerous places or overtly violent people. The trouble is that few abusers are always violent, and their moments of contrite or good behaviour in between can fool you into believing they have changed. Recognising that you have a problem with your temper or out of control anger and getting treatment also helps. Silence is seen as acceptance by abusers. Until you demand change, they are unlikely to stop being abusive as they tend to get results from their aggressive behaviour as others kowtow to their demands to keep the peace. Healing is only possible when you learn to be responsible for taking care of yourself and find ways to focus on your current life rather than slip back into ruminating about past abuse. This is hard, but essential if you do not want to remain stuck in painful prior tapes. Alcohol and drugs provide temporary relief that makes your problems worse in the long run. Facing painful pockets hurts but helps to rid you of their residual impact. I understand how hard it is to fight against the desire to seek revenge and the seething resentment one feels for having been violated and denied the right to be treated with respect and safety. sadly most violence occurs in the home as a result of people you know, not random strangers who attack you on the street. Until the family is seen as a potentially dangerous group instead of a consistently private sanctuary the stigma involved in leaving the family and turning your back on abusive parents or siblings will remain. House devil/street angel needs to be seen as the dual face presented by many abusers, instead of doubting the victims’ claims and obliging them to keep returning to unsafe situations where certain individuals rule while others are obliged to cower and suffer in silence.

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