Living with bad health habits can be a strong indicator of an abusive past, this study found.
Living well and sustaining a healthy lifestyle can go a long way towards increasing your happiness. What you eat, the quality of your social circle and how much exercise you get can all come into play. The course your life has taken can also matter, however, when it comes to scoring high in quality of life.
A study done at the University of Adelaide in southern Australia has found that if you have ever suffered through bullying or sexual abuse, it can have a lasting effect. Because of these events, your quality of life can dip as low as that of someone living with a chronic condition such as heart disease, diabetes, depression or severe anxiety.
“In Australia almost half of all adults have experienced bullying and 10% have experienced some form of sexual abuse,” said Dr. David Gonzalez-Chica from the University of Adelaide’s Medical School. “These experiences have had long-term effects on harmful behaviours, depression and quality of life.”
Sexual abuse and bullying were related to harmful behaviours like smoking dependence and binge eating, antidepressant use, and reduced quality of life, Gonzalez-Chica noted.
Those who suffered from both bullying and sexual abuse were three times more likely to be binge eaters. They were up to 4 times more likely to use antidepressants, and twice as likely to smoke.
And if someone had two or more adverse outcomes, (smoking dependence, binge eating, antidepressant use, and a lower quality of life), the probability they had suffered bullying and/or sexual abuse was found to range high-between 60-85%.
The takeaway? If a doctor finds a patient with multiple harmful behaviours- like smoking dependence and binge eating- who is depressed and has a lower quality of life, they should consider exploring whether these patients were victims of bullying and/or sexual abuse, Dr Gonzalez-Chica concluded.
“Identifying survivors of both forms of abuse is important to provide support and reduce more severe mental and physical consequences, such as suicide,” he added.
One in 6 Americans takes some kind of psychiatric drug, and between 16 and 20% smoke cigarettes, according to recent reports.