News / Health

Mideast Turmoil Prompts Worries of Long-term Mental Trauma

Aftermath of tear gas firing by security forces to disperse a protest by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Dec. 6, 2013.
Aftermath of tear gas firing by security forces to disperse a protest by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo, Dec. 6, 2013.
The violent aftermath of the Arab Spring is taking a toll on the mental health of people in the Middle East. And with no end in sight to turmoil, some psychiatrists warn that the numbers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders and severe depression will climb.

In the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli, a six-year-old refugee boy from the Syrian town of Hama explains the picture he’s drawn of a house and an artillery battery. He pushes aggressively into the center of a circle of refugee children to detail the dangers he faced in Syria from exploding rockets.

Psychiatrist Mohamed Khalil says it isn’t unusual for refugee kids from the two-and-half year Syrian civil war to draw weapons and to veer from hyperactivity to withdrawal.

He says traumatized children who have witnessed brutality and violent death often regress and wet their beds, suck their thumbs and experience restless, nightmare-filled sleep.

“You get isolation or social isolation, and they don’t want to speak to people but you can also get aggression, and the main toys for children is guns," said Khalil.

Khalil says the region is engulfed in a public health crisis that is gaining little media coverage or sufficient attention from international relief agencies.

There are no reliable numbers of those struggling with mental health problems. But across the region, pyschiatrists say violence and political turmoil is causing severe depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders.

The problems often are left untreated. In Egypt’s capital, Cairo, psychiatirst Ahmed Abdellah says a cultural stigma about mental health problems hinders the medical professionals trying to raise the alarm or to secure government help.

He says three years of revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt are exacting a heavy price in mental health terms.

“The problem is there’s a gap between what is going on in the society and between what is in clinics and in psychiatric institutes, especially the governmental institutes. Nowadays we have massive numbers of post-traumatic stress disorder cases. But you will not find maybe any of these cases in psychiatric departments," said Abdellah.
 
He says not only are people left to suffer when they could be helped but also that more problems are being stored up when victims of post-traumatic stress disorders are not treated.

“To leave somebody with trauma untreated, this opens him and the society to many expectations. First of all you are open for more aggression, you are open for more stress and displaced stress.  We are open to more violence, actually. If you have maybe tens of thousands, maybe more of people who are suffering, you could not expect them to work, to share, to intervene, to interact," he said.

Young people are especially suffering. There are as many as 50,000 displaced Syrian children under the age of 16 in Lebanon.

Based on his previous work with trauma sufferers elsewhere in conflict zones, Khalil estimates that at least one-third are at risk of developing severe PTSD, and as a result develop into adults who struggle to cope with daily life.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Susan from: USA
December 30, 2013 2:15 PM
hey VOA, its the long term mental trauma of Islam that is the cause of all this decayed and diseased region... and it is spreading... to Europe... America... Russia... Australia... soon to China... everywhere Islam has a foothold, terrorism and its malignant depravity will follow.

In Response

by: Omar from: USA
December 31, 2013 10:33 AM
You are extremely ignorant Susan to make this about religion, trauma and mental health impact is allover the world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid