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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid