Perinatal Depression", Journal of Women's Health Vol. 20, Number 6. Pg 863-870
This article sums up the report of Samantha Meltzer-Brody et al on eating disorders and trauma history in women with perinatal depression. They found a correlation between eating disorders, depression and a history of sexual and/or physical abuse in the life of the woman, being that those women with depression had a higher instance of eating disorders and were more likely to have been abused as a child under the age of 18 years old than women with no eating disorders.
Meltzer-Brody et al used a self-administered questionnaire to women coming into the Women's Mood Disorders Clinic at the University of North Carolina to collect information on 267 women. Later, the information was culled to only women with depression, which ended up being 158 women. The test was administered in a private place in the clinic.
The researchers chose a self-assessment test most likely because the nature of the information is very sensitive and the respondent may or may not give the proper information or an accurate account. Even so, only 80% of the women who were given the assessment responded and gave the assessment back.
The conclusion was that women who have depressions had an almost 40% chance of also having eating disorders, which is four times higher than the national average. They also found that women with eating disorders tended to have more severe depression. There was also a noteworthy contradiction to other research that happened to come up. In previous experiments, it was found that women with eating disorders that included symptoms of purging (like bulimia nervosa) tended to report higher instances of reporting abuse. However, in this research, patients with restricting or binge eating symptoms (like anorexia nervosa) reported more abuse. In fact, patients with anorexia reported a higher instance of both sexual and physical abuse than other eating disorder patients.
Now that we have this information, what will we do with it? Should there be harsher punishment for domestic violence, which is now shown to be a significant factor in developing serious medical conditions such as depression and anorexia? Should women with depression also be screened for past abuse as to develop better counseling treatments? Domestic abuse should indeed be met with harsher punishment, or rather with attention in general, and the victims should be met with sympathy and acceptance so as to reduce the impact and depression that will come from the abuse. Women with depression should also be screened for woulthe cause of the depression, as I am sure most professional counselors do.
Another study that could stem from this would be to follow the women with depression, eating