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Burden of Abuse: Violent partners take mental toll on women

Physical abuse doled out by husbands or male live-in partners contributes substantially to major depression and other mental disorders among women of childbearing age, a long-term study finds. In contrast, men subjected to violent abuse by their female partners show psychiatric disorders no more often than they did before entering those relationships.

"Partner abuse should be assessed routinely during psychiatric evaluations," remarks psychologist Miriam K. Ehrensaft of Columbia University.

The new investigation by Ehrensaft and her colleagues, published in the May American Journal of Psychiatry, offers a rare before-and-after look at the mental impact of abusive relationships. It focuses on 449 women and 456 men in New Zealand whose physical and psychological development was tracked from ages 3 to 26.

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