Sexual Abuse Effects Have Lasting Mental Health Effects

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Researchers have discovered that a history of sexual abuse can be linked to suicide attempts, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Dr. Ali Zirakzadeh of the Mayo Clinic and lead researcher states that sexual abuse carries long last effects.

Zirakzadeh and his team performed a systematic review of relevant research between 1980 and 2008. In this research they discovered a statistically significant association between mental health disorders and sexual abuse, even when they controlled for such factors as the victim's gender and the age at which the abuse took place.

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"Survivors of sexual abuse are commonly seen in general medical practice," said Zirakzadeh in a statement. "Sexual abuse survivors face a challenging spectrum of physical and mental health symptoms, which results in high healthcare ulilization, oftentimes without improvement of quality of life."

Sexual abuse is not as rare as one would like o think. An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today. In the US 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18 and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under.

"The good news for patients is that physicians are now more aware of the link between abuse and psychiatric illness so that abuse survivors may be more readily identified and referred to specialists for treatment," Zirakzadeh says. "We hope that heightened awareness in clinical practice leads to improved outcomes for our patients."

More research will be completed to discover why sexual abuse can have Researchers have discovered that a history of sexual abuse can be linked to suicide attempts, PTSD, anxiety, depression, and can have lasting mental health effects. The findings are published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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