Tuesday 16 August 2011

Hold The Front Page!

Research by the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, has suggested that childhood abuse doubles the risk of adults developing multiple and long-lasting episodes of depression (see more here).

"And we can also exclusively reveal that the Pope is a Catholic" I hear you say but in fairness the detail of the study is useful.

Researchers reviewed 16 studies, on a total of more than 23,000 patients, and found that maltreatment in childhood - such as rejection by mothers, harsh physical treatment or sexual abuse - significantly increased the risk of depression in later life.

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also suggested that patients who received abuse as a child are less likely to respond to treatment. Well, again, it isn't surprising that people who face difficulty as children have more intractable mental health problems in adulthood.

We need to recognise that when adults have problems arising from difficult childhoods it will often not be sufficient to offer them relatively superficial talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which is best suited to relieving current symptoms or dishabituating patients from unhealthy or damaging behaviour. Rather patients will typically need in-depth counselling or psychotherapy which allows them to identify and come to terms with their problems.

We should resist a simplistic, one-size-fits-all approach to talking therapies and instead realise that there needs to be a range of therapies which can be applied appropriately to different problems and also offer choice to patients.

And, above all, we need to challenge the pernicious and widespread prejudice, shared both by many mental health professionals and inadvertently by "progressive" mental health campaigners, that talking therapies are mainly for low-level mental health problems and somehow unsuited to serious mental illness.

See Hafal's comprehensive guide to talking and medical treatments, which distinguishes clearly between the different types of psychological therapies, here.