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Depression 'linked to child abuse'

2nd January 2007

Children that have been physically abused and neglected are more likely to suffer from depression when they grow up, researchers have argued.

The study, in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found children who suffered abuse or neglect were 75 per cent more likely to develop depression.

Around 680 children who were physically abused before the age of 11 were examined alongside 520 from similar backgrounds. The research found those who had been abused had a 59 per risk of suffering major depressive episodes as adults.

"These results underscore the need to detect and treat the long-term psychological (effects) of childhood neglect," lead researcher at the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, Cathy Spatz Widom, wrote.

NSPCC research has found that seven per cent of children have experienced serious physical abuse at the hands of their parents or carers. Figures from mental health charity Mind show that depression is experienced by 9.2 per cent of people in Britain.