Link between Sexual Trauma and Later Development of Schizophrenia

It has long been known that trauma can cause serious psychiatric problems following the event, such as PTSD, and may also be a contributing factor in the development of other mental health disorders. The trauma may be sexual, physical, and / or emotional in nature.

However, researchers at the Psychology Research Institute at the University of Ulster, with the help of the University of Southern Denmark, have recently discovered that significant mental health problems, particularly schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, may be connected to sexual trauma that occurred many years earlier.

The researchers found this by studying women who had been to rape crisis centers. The data was obtained from an official Danish database that has information dating back to 1968. This database is known as the Danish Civil Registration System (CRS) and has never been used in this kind of research. By using the CRS the researchers could study the effects of trauma while avoiding methodological problems that often occur in trauma research. The database provided a wide range of valuable demographic information such as educational background, income level, and employment.

Published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, their analysis revealed a connection between the diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder and the occurrence of rape as much as 10 years earlier. Studies like this are very valuable because they help further our understanding of factors that contribute to the development of schizophrenia. The study also provided important information regarding the types of social indicators that may make some individuals more vulnerable to sexual trauma such as rape

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