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Post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among Syrian refugees residing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq

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Mahmood et al., Conflict and Health (2019) 13:51


Background: Since the Syrian civil war began in March 2011, more than half of the Syrian population was forced to escape from their homes, and more than 5 million of them fled their country. The aim of the present study is to estimate the psychological consequences of this conflict among the refugee population who fled to Iraq.

Method: In 2017, a team of locally trained psychologists and social workers interviewed 494 married couples (988 individuals) who were Syrian Kurdish refugees in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Validated Kurdish Kurmanji and Arabic versions of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Checklist for DSM-5 and depression section of Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25 were used for assessing PTSD and depression symptoms.

Results: Almost all of the participants (98.5%) had experienced at least one traumatic event and 86.3% of them experienced three or more traumatic event types. The prevalence of probable PTSD was about 60%. Gender, length of time in the camp, area in which participants were grown up, and the number of traumatic event types were significant predictors for the presence of PTSD symptoms. Approximately the same rate of participants (59.4%) experienced probable depression, which was associated with gender, age, time spent in the camp, and the number of traumatic event types.

Conclusion: PTSD and depression are prevalent among refugees exposed to traumatic events, and various variables play important roles. The pattern of risk factors in this population is consistent with findings from war-affected populations in other regions and should be considered for intervention within this population and more broadly.

Keywords: Refugees, Syria, War, PTSD, Depression