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Domestic abuse makes new mothers mentally unhealthy

Posted on Apr 15 2014 | IANS

New York, April 15 : Domestic abuse during pregnancy makes new mothers more vulnerable to mental health problems including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a new study has found.

"We found that women who had experienced abuse were more likely to suffer from postpartum mental health problems, and were much more likely to suffer from those problems if the abuse occurred during pregnancy," said Sarah Desmarais, an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.

"In addition, the more types of abuse they experienced, the more severe the mental health symptoms they reported," Desmarais said.

Specific types of abuse are associated with specific mental health problems, said the study.

The researchers found that psychological abuse - verbal and emotional abuse - was associated with stress and PTSD.

Physical abuse was associated with depression, OCD and PTSD. Sexual abuse was associated with stress, depression and PTSD.

For the study, researchers interviewed 100 women from British Columbia who were largely from higher socioeconomic backgrounds and were not considered at high risk of postpartum mental health problems.

The researchers found that domestic abuse was not limited to families from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

"And this is clearly not a 'lower class' problem - medical professionals everywhere need to pay attention," Desmarais noted.

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