Depression and sexual assault have been shown to be associated.  Depression can be experienced by anyone related to experiencing to traumatic events. Victims of sexual violence are at particularly high risk of suffering from depression.  Persistent depression and sexual assault, as well as Major Depression and sexual violence can be experienced and cause significant difficulties for sufferers and their families.

Depression can be divided into different types but more significant depression tends to be persistent depressive disorder or major depression. Persistent depressive disorder is a depressed mood which lasts for 2 or more years and the individual may have episodes of major depression relieved by periods of less intense symptoms. Major depression is severe and can disrupt a person’s ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy the day-to-day things in life. Major depression can occur as a single incident but often will recur throughout the person’s lifetime over the course of several depressive episodes.3

Over 40% of women surveyed with severe mental health issues had experienced attempted or completed rape, of which 53% had attempted to commit suicide as a result. In the general population overall, 8% of women had experienced rape and 3% of those had attempted suicide at some point. Men are also at risk of developing depression from sexual violence and 12% of males with severe mental illness had been sexually assaulted. By comparison, the rate of severe mental illness such as depression was experienced by 0.5% of the general population.4 Overall depression and sexual assault occur 3 times more often in victims of sexual violence compared to the general population.

Symptoms of depression range widely from person to person and it is not necessary to have all the symptoms to be suffering from depression. These symptoms may include feeling sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, pessimistic, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness. Irritability and restlessness, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, sexual dysfunction or disinterest, fatigue and decreased energy may also be present. Other individuals will experience difficulties remembering details, making decisions, or have trouble concentrating or staying focused on their tasks. Those with depression may also experience trouble sleeping or eating, feeling tired throughout the day and wide awake at night, and overeating or undereating. Aches and pains, cramps, digestive issues, or headaches which do not have an underlying cause or do not ease with treatment are also common. In some cases, thoughts or plans of suicide and suicide attempts will occur.3

The Center for Disease Control states that approximately 9% of Americans have reported being depressed at least from time to time while 3.4% suffer have suffered from a major depressive episode at some point in their life. 1 Roughly 16 million adults experienced depression in 2012, according to the National Institute of Health. 2

Treatment options for survivors of depression and sexual assault can help victims of sexual violence. Therapies for depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy which may be offered in individual, family, or group sessions depending on what your care provider decides is the best option for your road to recovery. Exercise, healthy eating habits, reducing stress, and regulating sleep patterns are also beneficial as are ensuring that contact is maintained with social support groups such as friends, families, and coworkers. Prescription options such as anti-depressants monitored by a psychiatrist may also be helpful. Often times therapy in conjunction with prescription medications are used together to treat patients suffering from depression and sexual assault.  Treatment for depression following sexual assault can be very effective.

Because our treatment for depression and sexual assault relies on evidence based practices, our Intensive Outpatient Program shares many common methods with other successful treatment methods.  The foundation of our treatment program for relies on the principles of the stages of change, cognitive behavioral therapy, solution focused treatment, skills training and identifying repetitive dysfunctional behavioral relationship patterns to promote recovery from depression and other mental health disorders.  In fact, our Intensive Outpatient Program in Memphis, TN that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of these disorders in six peer reviewed treatment outcome studies.   Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient setting.  It is also important to keep in mind that women and men often experience depression differently and therefore the presence of depression may also appear differently based on gender. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression following a sexual assault, they should be assessed by a trained mental health professional who can help design a treatment plan for depression that can result in recovery.  Treatment for depression and anxiety can be highly successful and people who have completed our program have resulted in our treatment program receiving very highly consumer satisfaction scores and reviewsCall us at 901-682-6136 to schedule an appointment.

  1. http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20100930/how-many-in-united-states-are-depressed
  2. https://www.rainn.org/get-information/effects-of-sexual-assault/depression
  3. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
  4. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0914/040914-Mental-health-sexual-assault#sthash.IXZxuq9K.dpuf