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Mental Disorders Linked With Domestic Violence, Study Says

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- People diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than others to be victims of domestic violence, a new analysis finds.

Previous research has linked depression to domestic violence, but this review looks at a possible link between mental illness overall and domestic abuse in men and women.

"In this study, we found that both men and women with mental health problems are at an increased risk of domestic violence," senior study author Louise Howard, a professor at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said in a college news release.

"The evidence suggests that there are two things happening: Domestic violence can often lead to victims developing mental health problems, and people with mental health problems are more likely to experience domestic violence," Howard said.

The review, published recently in the journal PLoS One, examines statistics from 41 studies worldwide. It finds that women with symptoms of depression were 2.5 times more likely to have experienced domestic violence over their lifetimes than those in the general population, while those with anxiety disorders were more than 3.5 times more likely to have suffered domestic abuse. The extra risk grew to seven times more likely among those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Women with other conditions, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were also at higher risk, as were men with all types of mental disorders.

"Mental health professionals need to be aware of the link between domestic violence and mental health problems, and ensure that their patients are safe from domestic violence and are treated for the mental health impact of such abuse," said Howard.

Domestic abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, financial or emotional and include overly controlling or coercive behavior.

More information

For more about mental health, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: King's College London, England, news release, Dec. 26, 2012

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