Child Abuse and Mental Health: An Ineffable Correlation
Updated: Oct 23, 2021
Writers: Andi Lamasuta, Holly Samaniego, Aiko Acharya
Visual: Gia Navarro
Child abuse has severe impacts on the mental health of the child involved. The self-esteem of a person can be damaged by these experiences. For example, an individual may think negatively about themselves, and thus develop insecurities about certain attributes that they may have. This could be caused by the individual abusing them, who may have repeatedly pointed out these attributes in a negative and mocking manner.
Depression is a common byproduct of child abuse. According to a study done on women, 46% of those who had experienced childhood sexual abuse had experienced a major depressive episode. This fails in comparison with 28% of women who had not had these experiences. A child in an abusive environment may develop depression as they may feel especially lonely having to deal with these traumatic experiences. They may also feel particularly hopeless that the condition they are in is unlikely to improve in the future.
The likelihood of developing PTSD from these experiences is also very common. PTSD is formed through having persistent traumatic experiences, especially earlier on in your lifetime. Child abuse is a key example of a traumatic experience that could be the cause of PTSD, alongside childhood physical and sexual abuse. PTSD also contributes to other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.