People who remember being pushed, slapped and hit as children are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and personality disorders later in life, according to an international study covering thousands of people.
Canadian researchers whose results were published in the journal Pediatrics estimated that between two and seven percent of those mental disorders might be due to punishments inflicted in childhood, not including more severe forms of abuse.
“People believe that as long as you don’t cross that line into child maltreatment, and the physical punishment is controlled and doesn’t cross the line into abuse, it won’t have any negative long-term consequences for the child,” said study leader Tracie Afifi at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
They found about six percent of interview subjects had been punished beyond spanking “sometimes,” “fairly often” or “very often” – and those people with a history of harsh physical punishment were more likely to have a range of mood and personality disorders or to abuse drugs and alcohol.
For example, 20 percent of people who remembered being physically punished had been depressed and 43 percent had abused alcohol at some point. That compared to 16 percent of people who weren’t hit or slapped who had been depressed and 30 percent who drank too much.
The study – which defines harsh physical punishment as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hit-ting – suggests “reducing physical punishment may help to decrease the prevalence of mental disorders in the general population.
“When we compared people who were physically punished to those who were not, the people who were physically punished had an increased likelihood of having a number of mental disorders, and that included mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders and personality disorders,” said Afifi.
Physical punishment is a chronic and sometimes repeated stressor for young people and chronic and repeated stressors have a negative impact on the brain leading to depression and other mental disorders at a least stimulus in adulthood.
You can read here about, how to detect the symptoms of depression in your loved ones.