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depression and violence

There has been a lot of focus on how suffering from depression can lead to self-harm and suicide. In contrast, there has been little investigation of any link between depression and violent behaviour. Experts have heard anecdotal reports, but there has been no rigorous study until now.

Researchers have investigated whether there is a link between suffering from depression and perpetrating violent crime. They have used data from Sweden, comparing patients with depression to members of the general population and, further, assessed risk of violent crime in twin studies.

Experts came along to hear the results of the study, which are being reported in The Lancet Psychiatry, and discuss issues such as:

  • What proportion of violent crimes in the UK is enacted by people with depression?
  • How does violent crime from depression compare to other things such as psychosis or drugs and alcohol?
  • Would these findings apply to all people with depression, or just certain subsets?
  • Is it possible to predict which people suffering from depression are most likely to be violent?
  • Should people at high risk of being violent have different treatment? If so, what and why?
  • How does the rate of violence compare to the rate of self-harm and suicide? What are the implications?
  • What would cause people with depression to be more violent?



Prof. Seena Fazel, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Honorary Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Achim Wolf, Research Assistant, Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology Group, University of Oxford

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