Purpose: The current longitudinal study examines the temporal association between different types of intimate partner violence (IPV) at early adulthood (21 years) and subsequent depression and anxiety disorders in young adulthood (30 years).
Methods: Participants were from the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy. A cohort of 1529 was available for analysis. IPV was measured using the Composite Abuse Scale at 21 years. At the 21 and 30-year follow-ups, major depression disorder and anxiety disorders were measured using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
Results: We found a temporal relationship between almost all forms of IPV at 21 years and females’ new cases of major depression disorder at 30 years. This association was not found for females who had previously been diagnosed with depression disorder. IPV did not predict the onset of new anxiety disorders, but it had a robust association with anxiety disorders in females with a previous anxiety diagnosis. We observed no significant link between IPV and males’ subsequent major depression disorder. Interestingly, the experience of emotional abuse was a robust predictor of new cases of anxiety disorders but only for males.
Conclusion: Our results suggest the need for sex-specific and integrated interventions addressing both IPV and mental health problems simultaneously. IPV interventions should be informed by the extend to which pre-existing anxiety and depression may lead to different psychological responses to the IPV experience. Increased risk of anxiety disorders predicted by emotional abuse experienced by males challenges beliefs about invulnerability of men in the abusive relationships and demands further attention.