Research just published shows that childhood trauma is experienced differently by women and men. My Mind News investigates the study further.
Details on the research
A recent study presented at the European Congress of Psychiatry on March 26th, 2023, reports that children who experience trauma have a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.
It also found that childhood trauma is experienced differently by women and men. Women are more affected by childhood emotional trauma and sexual abuse, whereby men are more affected by childhood physical and emotional neglect.
The Study background
The study evolved from data from nearly 800 twins and siblings from the TwinssCan project, which had participants aged from age 18 to 65 years. The study was specifically designed to examine anxiety and depression over an extended period to understand the correlation between childhood trauma and anger.
There is surprisingly little research on the impact of childhood trauma and levels of anger. Research studies have previously predicted that at least 40% of patients with anxiety and depression tend to be angrier than the average population, but the link to childhood trauma was unknown.
The study examined childhood trauma, such as neglect and emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The researchers sought to understand if any participants had a history of childhood trauma such as parent loss, divorce, or being placed in care and how this correlated to differences between the genders in adulthood.
It is also the first study that seeks to understand the gender-specific effects of childhood trauma.
The research’s findings
The study reviewed current psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression, interpersonal sensitivity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and other symptoms. It then linked these symptoms from childhood trauma to those experienced as adults.
‘Physical neglect may include experiences of not having enough to eat, wearing dirty clothes, not getting taken care of, and not getting taken to the doctor when the person was growing up. Emotional neglect may include childhood experiences like not feeling loved or important and not feeling close to the family.’
The research found that both men and women who had childhood trauma were significantly more likely to experience mental health conditions in adulthood, leading to angrier adults.
Analyzing the findings
Analyzing the difference between genders, researchers found that women and men experienced childhood trauma differently. Women are twice as likely to be affected by emotional abuse.
In commenting upon the findings, Dr Prachason said,
“Our findings indicate that exposure to childhood maltreatment increases the risk of having psychiatric symptoms in both men and women. However, exposure to emotionally or sexually abusive experiences during childhood increases the risk of a variety of psychiatric symptoms, particularly in women.
In contrast, a history of emotional or physical neglect in childhood increases the risk of having psychiatric symptoms more in men.”
Women who had suffered childhood sexual abuse experienced more mental health issues. In contrast, men who suffered physical and emotional neglect in childhood experienced more mental health issues.
In summary, the study findings reveal the absolute need for gender-specific and personalized care for those adults suffering from childhood trauma.
It also will help inform the development of earlier intervention strategies for those children who have suffered childhood trauma and help them transition into adulthood with the proper support to support their recovery.
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