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Intimate partner violence and subsequent depression and anxiety disorders

Abstract

Purpose

The current longitudinal study examines the temporal association between different types of intimate partner violence (IPV) at early adulthood (21 years) and subsequent depression and anxiety disorders in young adulthood (30 years).

Methods

Participants were from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy. A cohort of 1529 was available for analysis. IPV was measured using the Composite Abuse Scale at 21 years. At the 21 and 30-year follow-ups, major depression disorder and anxiety disorders were measured using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results

We found a temporal relationship between almost all forms of IPV at 21 years and females’ new cases of major depression disorder at 30 years. This association was not found for females who had previously been diagnosed with depression disorder. IPV did not predict the onset of new anxiety disorders, but it had a robust association with anxiety disorders in females with a previous anxiety diagnosis. We observed no significant link between IPV and males’ subsequent major depression disorder. Interestingly, the experience of emotional abuse was a robust predictor of new cases of anxiety disorders but only for males.

Conclusion

Our results suggest the need for sex-specific and integrated interventions addressing both IPV and mental health problems simultaneously. IPV interventions should be informed by the extend to which pre-existing anxiety and depression may lead to different psychological responses to the IPV experience. Increased risk of anxiety disorders predicted by emotional abuse experienced by males challenges beliefs about invulnerability of men in the abusive relationships and demands further attention.

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Data availability

The data set(s) used in this article is available on request from the MUSP.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the MUSP research team, the Schools of Public Health and Social Sciences (The University of Queensland), and also the Research Training Program of the Australian Government and the University of Queensland for sponsorship.

Funding

This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and Australian Research Council (NHMRC grant #1009460). The principal author is in receipt of “the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship” and “the University of Queensland Centennial Scholarship”.

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Correspondence to Zohre Ahmadabadi.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethics approval

The Mater Hospital and University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP) in Australia has been approved by the Human Ethics Review Committee of the University of Queensland. Additional approval granted from the Human Ethics Research Office of the University of Queensland (Clearance number 2017001622) to undertake the present study. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants of the study.

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Ahmadabadi, Z., Najman, J.M., Williams, G.M. et al. Intimate partner violence and subsequent depression and anxiety disorders. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 55, 611–620 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-019-01828-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00127-019-01828-1

Keywords

  • Intimate partner violence
  • Major depression disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sex