Study Highlights Longterm Damage of Verbal Abuse
> 5/23/2006 5:36:28 AM

In a new study to be published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers at Florida State University have found that verbal abuse suffered during childhood can have profound effects that last well into adult life. Often these scars manifest themselves as an increased risk for depression and anxiety related disorders. Researchers came to their conclusions by studying a sample subset of over 5,000 participants from the National Comorbidity Survey.

People who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime, according to psychology Professor Natalie Sachs-Ericsson, the study's lead author.

Researchers concluded that much of the damage came in the form of self-critical thoughts internalized as a part of an abused child's thought process. As the team noted other abuses can also result in similar self-critical effects later in life, but they pointed out that these self-critical tendencies, in the case of sexual or physical parental abuse, are not as important in the development of depression and anxiety as are other factors.

While continued research will help to solidify the team's conclusions, this study holds important implications for treatment of adults who suffered verbal abuse as children can. By addressing the self-critical tendencies of those who have suffered from verbal abuse, clinicians can help identify and begin to address the negative perceptions and thought patterns that cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Talking through these irrational views will begin to set those who have been abused on a better path.

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