advertisement
Home » News » Relationships » Sexuality » Sexually Abused Children at Risk for Adult Psychosis

Sexually Abused Children at Risk for Adult Psychosis

Sexually Abused Children at Risk for Adult PsychosisA new report suggests children who are sexually abused may be at higher risk for developing schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

The Austrian study found that a history of sexual abuse with penetration especially increased the risk.

Previous studies have established that abused children are more likely to develop depression, anxiety, substance abuse, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal behavior, according to background information in the article.

“The possibility of a link between childhood sexual abuse and later psychotic disorders, however, remains unresolved despite the claims of some that a causal link has been established to schizophrenia,” the authors write.

Margaret C. Cutajar of Monash University, Victoria, Australia, and colleagues linked data from police and medical examinations of sexual abuse cases to a statewide register of psychiatric cases.

Rates of psychiatric disorders among 2,759 individuals who had been sexually abused when younger than age 16 were compared with those among 4,938 individuals in a comparison group drawn from electoral records.

Over a 30-year period, individuals who had experienced childhood sexual abuse had significantly higher rates than those in the comparison group of psychosis overall (2.8 percent vs. 1.4 percent) and schizophrenia disorders (1.9 percent vs. 0.7 percent).

Participants experienced abuse at an average age of 10.2, and 1,732 (63 percent) of cases involved penetration of a bodily orifice by a penis, finger or other object. Those exposed to this type of abuse had higher rates of psychosis (3.4 percent) and schizophrenia (2.4 percent).

“The risks of subsequently developing a schizophrenic syndrome were greatest in victims subjected to penetrative abuse in the peripubertal and postpubertal years from 12 to 16 years and among those abused by more than one perpetrator,” the authors write.

“Children raped in early adolescence by more than one perpetrator had a risk of developing psychotic syndromes 15 times greater than for the general population.”

The results establish childhood sexual abuse as a risk factor for psychotic illness, but do not necessarily translate into abuse causing or increasing the risk of developing such a disease, the authors note.

Many cases of childhood sexual abuse never come to light, and the overall population of abused children may be significantly different from those whose abuse is detected by officials.

“Establishing that severe childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor for schizophrenia does have important clinical implications irrespective of questions of causality and irrespective of whether those whose abuse is revealed are typical,” the authors conclude.

“Children who come to attention following childhood sexual abuse involving penetration, particularly in the peripubertal and postpubertal period, should receive ongoing clinical and social support in the knowledge that they are at greater risk of developing a psychotic illness.”

“Such treatment in our opinion should focus on improving their current functioning and adaptation to the demands of the transition from adolescent to adult roles rather than primarily on the abuse experience itself.

“Such an approach should benefit all victims, irrespective of whether they have the potential to develop a psychotic illness.”

The study is found in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Sexually Abused Children at Risk for Adult Psychosis

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Sexually Abused Children at Risk for Adult Psychosis. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/11/04/sexually-abused-children-at-risk-for-adult-psychosis/20535.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.