Sexual abuse is linked to a variety of mental health issues, including suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and sleep disorders, according to researchers.
When Dr. Ali Zirakzadeh of the Mayo Clinic and his team did a systematic review of all relevant research between 1980 and 2008, they found a statistically significant association between all of these 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.
"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."
"The good news for patients," added Zirakzadeh, "is that physicans 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."
The findings appear in the July 2010 Mayo Clinic Proceedings.