Purpose: Population-based studies on the relationship between stalking and mental health outcomes in victims are scarce. The aim of the present study was to assess associations between stalking victimization and specific DSM-IV mental disorders in a community sample.
Method: A postal survey was conducted in a middle-sized German city (sample size=675). Lifetime stalking victims and non-victims were compared regarding rates of any mental disorder, comorbid mental disorders, and specific disorders assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ).
Results: Victims had a higher incidence of mental disorders and comorbid mental disorders. Sex- and age-adjusted rates of specific disorders were increased, with the most robust associations identified for major depression (OR 4.8, 95% CI 1.8-12.8) and panic disorder (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.1-14.9). Victims also reported higher current use of psychotropic medication (20.8% versus 5.6%).
Conclusions: Our study indicates substantial associations between stalking victimization and impaired mental health that can be quantified at diagnostic levels in the general population. To confirm these findings, larger community studies are needed, which also include an assessment of lifetime psychopathology and of factors potentially mediating the associations between stalking victimization and mental health.