Sexual Assault & Depression: Recognizing the Signs
By August 30, 2011 1,737 4
Rape and sexual assault can put great psychological and emotional strain on victims. One of the most common results of these is depression.
Clinical depression can be tricky to recognize, because people experience many of its symptoms as normal reactions to events in their life. Certainly a traumatic event like rape or sexual assault would cause someone to feel upset. As a result, early symptoms of depression in rape and sexual assault victims may go unnoticed or be attributed to a normal period of adjustment following the attack.
But depression is different from normal feelings of sadness, grief or low energy. It is not fleeting and it is not something that someone can make himself or herself "snap out of."
And clinical depression is an especially common reaction to this type of trauma: In fact, victims of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault are included in one of the highest percentages of people who at some time experience depression.
Depression may take the form of fear, anxiety or self-hatred, numbness, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep or include other physical indications of stress. After being assaulted many victims also experience a sense of meaninglessness.
The two most common general symptoms of depression are:
- Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
- Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
For a full list of other symptoms of depression, go to the “Health Center” section of this website.
If you are suffering from depression because of rape or sexual assault, it’s important to remember you are not alone or at fault. Experiencing depression is not a sign of weakness, and you may need help to overcome it. Contact a mental health professional in your area or call one of these free, confidential hotlines:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
Abuse is physical and emotional. If you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support and information. It is free and anonymous. You can also visit their website at http://www.thehotline.org/ for resources, information and support.
National Dating Abuse Helpline
1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 (TTY)
If you feel like you might be in an abusive relationship, please call the National Dating Abuse Hotline. You can also call the Helpline for more information about dating violence or other resources specific for teens, or visit their website at http://www.loveisrespect.org/.
National Sexual Assault Hotline
If you have experienced sexual assault or rape, please contact the sexual assault hotline. At any given moment, more than 1,100 trained volunteers are on duty and available to help victims at RAINN-affiliated crisis centers across the country. When you call, you are connected to the nearest member center. Your call is anonymous, confidential and free. You can also visit their website for information and help.