As many of you know, last month was Mental Health Awareness Month. I tend to fall a bit behind on my posting so it should come as no surprise that I missed the boat on that opportunity. But this is a cause that is relevant any time of year since so many suffer in silence. I want to give special thanks to Michelle, for penning this post and allowing me to share it here with all of you.
Michelle is a former communications associate who transitioned into building her own freelance business. She enjoys writing about health and staying on top of emerging news. Relaxing by the beach is one of her favorite activities in her free time.
The vicious cycle between mental health disorders and domestic violence has been well recognized by medical researchers and scientists, but the looming question remains: which of the two dilemmas comes first? The truth is that we cannot tell, because it’s a different sequence of events in every case. While some individuals suffer from emotional and mental health troubles due to domestic abuse, others are domestic abusers because they are already suffering from emotional troubles. In both cases, the cure lies in treating the mental illness.
The definition of domestic abuse is far beyond the typical assumption of it entailing violent physical behavior at home. Domestic abuse includes any form of physical and/or emotional abuse, which results in the victim suffering severe trauma. It can include sexual/physical assault, psychological abuse, and emotional abuse(1).
Even something as minor as name-calling, belittling, and constant criticism of the victim’s self-esteem is a form of emotional abuse that does great damage to the mental health.
Contrary to popular belief, women are not the only victims of domestic abuse. According to Parity(2), a men’s rights group, over 40 percent of domestic abuse victims are men. While partner abuse is most prevalent, domestic abuse can also breed between parents and children, and between siblings. Partner abuse is a traumatic experience and it can give rise to mental troubles like panic attacks, anxiety, depression, psychosis, post-traumatic stress, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse. It’s also hard to ignore that anyone already suffering from any of these problems is more likely to attack their partner in an abusive way. Substance addiction is also classified as a mental disorder, and a large majority of people with addiction have been victims of trauma.
Women who have suffered from trauma are more likely to suffer from addiction of any sort including drugs, alcohol, smoking, impulse shopping, sex, or eating. The Journal of Psychiatric Research states that women are twice as likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress because they tend to have a heightened fear response.
The ratio of men suffering from post-abuse mental health issues is not far behind either. According to a study carried out at the University of Bristol, men who have experienced or carried out acts of domestic abuse tend to suffer from mental ailments like anxiety and depression(3). Unlike women, men are not very likely to develop substance addiction due to domestic abuse. Recent studies that focus on men show that whether they are the victims or the person behind it, domestic abuse scars a male’s emotional health in a way that is similar to females.
The first step towards the treatment of such mental health problems is to identify the problem and seek help. There are many organizations and support groups that help men, women, and children suffering from domestic abuse. Seeing a doctor or a therapist is also important for treating mental disorders related to abuse.
Clinical depression in men and women who have suffered from domestic violence can be cured with antidepressants, which help restore the chemical balance of the brain and uplift the patient’s mood to improve the symptoms. However, due to the nature of the abuse, medication alone does not help unless accompanied by therapist sessions, cutting off abusive interaction, and external support from family, friends, or support groups.
In cases of psychosis and anxiety, medical help is necessary for complete recovery along with therapeutic sessions that help restore the positivity in the victim. Introducing a positive aspect in life is the key for the treatment of post-abuse mental disorders; this can be done by taking up new hobbies and interacting with people who can help.