Domestic violence and a new mom's mental health


A new study published in PLOS Medicine suggests that domestic violence and perinatal mental health disorders may be linked.

Women who develop mental health issues around the time they give birth are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than those who don't, according to the study's authors.

The British researchers behind the study did a systemic review and meta-analysis of studies. The findings showed that symptoms of perinatal mental disorders were commonly associated with experiencing domestic violence, though the researchers did caution that the link may not necessarily be causal.

Depression more likely than anxiety in domestic violence victims

Women with perinatal depression were three times more likely to have experienced domestic violence in the past year and five times more likely to have experienced it during their pregnancy, the study found. Women with postnatal anxiety, however, seemed to have less of a connection with previous violence.

Although the data are not conclusive, other studies have shown that those with mental illnesses are more prone to being victims of violence, and still more studies have shown that children who experience or witness domestic violence have higher rates of mental illness later in life.

Some studies have shown that domestic violence can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can exacerbate other issues, including postpartum depression or problems associated with the fluctuation of hormones during and after pregnancy.

Certainly, health care providers, friends and family of domestic violence victims should be vigilant, especially if the victim is pregnant.

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