Childhood abuse

The following is a news item from Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded Young People’s Information Hub. To access the Hub please click here.

Research by the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London has suggested that childhood abuse doubles the risk of adults developing multiple and long-lasting episodes of depression.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also suggested that patients who received abuse as a child are less likely to respond to treatment.

Researchers reviewed 16 studies, on a total of more than 23,000 patients, and found that maltreatment in childhood – such as rejection by the mother, harsh physical treatment or sexual abuse – significantly increased the risk of depression in later life.

Commenting on the study, Bill Walden-Jones, Chief Executive of the Welsh mental health charity, Hafal, said: “It isn’t surprising that people who face difficulty as children have more intractable mental health problems in adulthood. Obviously the most important matter to address is the protection of young people from abuse in the first instance.

“We also need to remember that when adults have problems arising from difficult childhoods it will typically not be sufficient to offer them ‘light touch’ talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aimed at addressing symptoms or dishabituating them from certain types of behaviour.

“Instead, patients will need in-depth counselling or psychotherapy which will allow them to come to terms with their problems. There isn’t a quick fix.”

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