One of the least shocking yet most troubling consequences of child abuse is depression. Victims of child abuse are prone to suffer from this disease at some time in their life, either in recurring episodes or long stretches.
The reason I do not find this surprising is because it makes sense, to put it blatantly. As a child your brain is continuing to develop, so abuse introduces an influx of stress hormones that can potentially alter and rewire your brain in an abnormal way. I’m not a psychologist or a scientist, but even as a mere high-school student, I can clearly see the long-term negative effects of child abuse.
Removing the scientific aspect of abuse and focusing on the social angle, it remains obvious how child abuse causes depression. A myriad, even a majority of child abuse perpetrators are related to their respective victims. Loneliness and social isolation are key concepts of depression – and isn’t it true that your family is supposed to always be there for you? To listen to you and accept you as who you are? Unfortunately, some children do not have that luxury. As a result they suffer physically and mentally.
Though I had a blast on the cruise I went on recently, I immediately felt sad again once I returned home to certain members of my family. To ameliorate this I began reading The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi. Here’s a quote I stumbled upon right at the beginning (page 32):
“Likewise, the protective presence of loved ones – which our forebears experienced for the better part of each day – gives the brain a strong, primal signal that we’re probably no longer in any immediate danger, so it ratchets down the stress response accordingly.”
This quote supplies evidence as to why victims of abuse possess irregular stress patterns. I’m sure others can relate to me when I say that I do feel like I’m in immediate danger in the “protective presence of loved ones”, and that my “stress response” actually shoots skyward during that time.
I digress. It’s important to remember that despite what I’ve written here, victims of child abuse are not helpless in the face of despair. I read, I run, I write, and I do many other things in order to fight depression. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.
Child abuse hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD