Serious Crime Victims Risk PTSD, Multiple Disorders

October 28, 1998

Victims of rape and other serious crimes are at high risk of developing a range of emotional disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder, a study of nearly 400 South Carolina women reveals.

The effects were strongest for rape and other life-threatening crimes, while robbery and burglary were not linked to an increased risk of any mental disorder, report Edwin Boudreaux, PhD, now at the Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dean G. Kilpatrick, PhD, Director of the National Crime Victims Research & Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, and colleagues.

"While crimes such as aggravated assault may increase the risk of developing a serious mental disorder, if the crime specifically involves a completed rape or perceived life threat, the risk increases dramatically," Boudreaux says.

The researchers interviewed 391 women from Charleston, South Carolina, about their experience with crime and their mental health symptoms. Their findings are reported in the Fall issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress (Vol. 11, No. 4).

About three quarters of the women had experienced at least one crime; 23 percent had been the victim of a rape, 10 percent had been physically assaulted, about 6 percent had been robbed, and 13 percent had experienced a burglary while at home.

Crime victims were more likely than non-victims to suffer currently from PTSD, a severe reaction to trauma that leaves people emotionally numb and overly aroused and leads them to reexperience the traumatic event repeatedly. Crime victims were also more likely to develop depression, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social phobia, the researchers found.

The relationship between being a crime victim and development of these other mental disorders appears to be strongest in the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers say, but it remains unclear whether the other disorders preceded or followed development of PTSD. Other researchers, Boudreaux and his colleagues say, "have found evidence that [these] disorders can possibly develop as secondary reactions to the stress of having PTSD."

"Our study confirms conclusions that PTSD victims rarely suffer PTSD alone," the researchers write. "If a victim develops PTSD, she will more likely suffer from some other disorder or dysfunction that may be just as debilitating and potentially life-threatening."

The Journal of Traumatic Stress is the peer-reviewed journal of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. For information about the society and the journal, contact the editor, Dean Kilpatrick, PhD, (843) 792-2945.
Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For information about the Center, contact Richard Hebert, (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to