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Maltreatment in Childhood Increases Risk For Mental Illness

Update Date: Oct 09, 2013 09:36 AM EDT

Maltreated persons are more prone to depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders than those who are not maltreated during childhood, says a review based on the examination of a literature, exploring the risk factors of these disorders.  

Childhood maltreatment, is defined as, "any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver (e.g., clergy, coach, teacher) that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Prevention and Control. 

Authors Martin H. Teicher, associate professor of psychiatry at McLeab and Jacqueline Samson, Harvard Medical School assistant professor of psychology at McLean, focused their review on how the effects of childhood abuse increases the risk for symptoms of mental disorders.

They took a close look at the clinical differences found in individuals with and without a history of maltreatment. In addition they used neurobiological information to compare the different cases reported for the disorders.

"Imaging findings associated with psychiatric disorders, such as reduced hippocampal volume and amygdala hyper-reactivity, are more consistently observed in maltreated individuals and may represent a maltreatment-related risk factor," states the review.  

More studies must be done in order to discuss what treatments are best suitable and effective for patients who have been victims of childhood maltreatment.

The findings of the review are published in The American Journal of Psychiatry

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