Men with depression or anxiety are more likely to have experienced domestic violence, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Bristol gathered data from 1,360 men over the age of 18 who completed a survey at 16 GP practices across the southwest of England. The men who were questioned were visiting the doctor due to mental health issues such anxiety or depression, or because of binge drinking and cannabis use.
The survey asked if they had ever felt frightened by a partner, if they had ever been physically hurt in a relationship, if they had experienced forced sex or if they ever had to ask a partner’s permission. These four situations were identified by researchers as possible indicators of domestic violence and abuse. Men were also asked if they had caused their partners to experience these behaviours in the last 12 months.
A total of 309 respondents claimed to have experienced one of the four listed behaviours while 212 said they had perpetrated at least one of them. Researchers found that those who had such experiences were more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression. In fact, anxiety was between three and five times more likely among admitted perpetrators of such behaviour.
However, the study found no strong correlation between these behaviours and the use of cannabis or alcohol.
Lead study author Professor Marianne Hester is the head of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at Bristol University’s School for Policy Studies. She said that when it comes to domestic violence, “there is a lack of research on men, both as victims and perpetrators”.
“[W]hen men present to GPs with anxiety or depression, they should be asked about domestic violence and abuse as there is a higher likelihood that they will be victims or perpetrators”, she added.
Professor Gene Feder from the university’s Centre for Academic Primary Care was co-author of the study. He said that issues of domestic violence among men, as victims or as perpetrators, are “largely invisible to GPs” and that these results would “help focus attention on this hidden problem”.
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