Continuous intimate partner violence (IPV), as well as new onset of IPV, are associated with depression in victims, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Researchers sought to test the hypotheses that onset of IPV increases the level of depression in victims, that new onset of IPV is more likely to worsen depression than existing/continuous IPV, and that low socioeconomic status and/or other covariates affect the association between IPV and depression among victim who are women. Self-reported survey data provided by married men (n=1040) and women (n=3732) who did not have depression in 2010 were identified from the Korean Welfare Panel Study. Using depression scores gauged by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), researchers analyzed individuals who were newly diagnosed with depression from 2011 onwards. All participants were surveyed each year with subsequent 4-year follow-up.

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Individuals were categorized into 1 of 4 groups: “violent to violent” (IPV from the previous year and following year), “non-violent to violent” (no IPV in previous year but IPV in the following year), “violent to non-violent” (IPV in the previous year but no IPV in the following year), and “non-violent to non-violent” (no IPV in the previous or following year). Covariates included age, educational attainment, equalized household income, economic status, smoking status, chronic conditions, geographical region, and relationship with child (satisfactory, unsatisfactory, or no child).

Revealing the association between IPV onset and depression, individuals with “violent to violent” partners had the highest depression scores (n=415 men; P <.0001) and (n=866 women; P <.0001), followed by individuals with “non-violent to violent” partners (n=362 men; P <.0001) and (n=532 women; P <.0001), after controlling for covariates. Lower education, unemployment, and lower incomes in individuals with violent partners were associated with especially high CES-D scores in both men and women victims. The researchers’ first hypothesis that onset of IPV increases the level of depression in victims was supported, but their second hypothesis that new onset of IPV is more likely to worsen depression than continuous IPV was not supported. Low socioeconomic status played a significant role in affecting the association between IPV and depression, confirming the third hypothesis.

This study is limited by potential biases and subjective interpretations of partner violence arising from self-reported survey data.

The findings of this study highlight the need for more research to be conducted on IPV and depression, and the importance of implementing IPV interventions such as transitional housing, aid, and childcare support.

Reference

Oh SS, Kim W, Jang SI, Park EC. The association between intimate partner violence onset and gender-specific depression: A longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample [published online February 26, 2019]. J Affect Disord. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.02.065