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Common mental disorders in postconflict settings

Joop T V M de Jong, Ivan H Komproe, Mark Van Ommeren

Research into postconflict psychiatric sequelae in low-income countries has been focused largely on symptoms rather than on full psychiatric diagnostic assessment. We assessed 3048 respondents from postconflict communities in Algeria , Cambodia , Ethlopia, and Palestine with the aim of establishing the prevalence of mood disorder, somatoform disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other anxiety disorders. PTSD and other anxiety disorders were the most frequent problems. In three countries, PTSD was the most likely disorder in individuals exposed to, violence associated with armed conflict, but such violence was a common risk factor for various disorders and comorbidity combinations in different settings. In three countries, anxiety disorder was reported most in people who had not been exposed to such violence. Experience of violence associated with armed conflict was associated with higher rates of disorder that ranged from a risk ratio of 2-10 (95% CI 1.38-2.85) for anxiety in Algeria to 10.03 (5.26-16.65) for PTSD in Palestine . Postconflict mental health programmes should address a range of common disorders beyond PTSD.

Lancet 2003; 361 : 2128-30