News Picture: 1 in 5 People Living in Conflict Areas Has a Mental Health Problem
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1 in 5 people who live in conflict areas have a mental health problem

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WEDNESDAY, June 12, 2019 (HealthDay News) – A new study shows that about 22% of people living in conflict areas suffer from mental health problems.

Common problems are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, according to the World Health Organization. About 9% have a moderate to severe mental health condition.

These conclusions are based on an overview of 129 previously published studies. The numbers are considerably higher than the global estimate of 1 in 14 in the general population.

Researchers said that earlier studies underestimate how life in war zones and other conflict zones affects mental health. They discovered that depression and anxiety increased with age, and said that depression was more common in women than in men.

Mild mental health problems were the most common (13%). An estimated 4% of the conditions were moderate and 5% were severe.

The report was published in the journal on 11 June The Lancet.

"I am confident that our study provides the most accurate estimates available today about the prevalence of mental health conditions in conflict areas," said lead author Fiona Charlson in a press release. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Washington in Seattle.

Nowadays conflict areas are Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In 2016, the number of wars was at a historic high – with 53 ongoing conflicts in 37 countries and 12% of the world's population living in an active conflict zone, the study found. Almost 69 million people worldwide have been displaced by violence and conflict, most since the Second World War.

Researchers said that the complexity of collecting data in conflict areas can lead to incorrect estimates. Cultural differences in the way the diagnosis is made can also influence the findings, she added.

Cristiane Duarte, professor of child psychology at Columbia University in New York City, wrote an accompanying editorial that calls for more attention to mental health in conflict areas.

"Despite the limitations, current estimates justify more investment in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders in conflict-affected populations," she wrote.

– Steven Reinberg

MedicalNews
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SOURCE: The Lancet, press release, 11 June 2019

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