Sexual Abuse in Childhood May Increase Risk of Psychosis Later

Scientists in Australia have recently discovered that sexual abuse during childhood may significantly increase the risk of developing schizophrenia and other types of psychosis later in life. Their findings also showed that this is particularly true when the abuse involves penetration with a finger, penis, or other type of object.

Prior research has shown that various disorders including depression, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and substance abuse problems are more likely to occur in children who have been abused.

The researchers linked a register of psychiatric cases to police and medical reports from sexual abuse cases. The average age of abuse was 10.2 years.

They found that a schizophrenic syndrome occurred most often in victims who were between the ages of 12 to 16 and / or had been abused by two or more people. These children were 15 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder than the general population.

The researchers indicated that while this study shows that sexual abuse in childhood is a risk factor in the development of a psychotic disorder, it does not mean the abuse caused the disorder to develop.

These findings have important treatment implications. Providing ongoing social and clinical support to children who have been abused may help reduce their risk of developing a psychotic disorder later on. It will also benefit them in general.

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