Psychological harm means Iraqis suffer 'double blow'
Friday 03 November 2006
The people of Iraq are facing a "double blow" in an epidemic of psychological damage being caused by the continuing violence, it was claimed in the British Medical Journal yesterday.
The sheer numbers killed since the invasion is a pointer to the huge proportion of people who would have been exposed to severe violence, Dr Michael E Reschen wrote.
Previous studies have shown that the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic event ranged from 7.5 per cent to 72 per cent, with the risk highest in those exposed to sustained combat trauma.
Dr Reschen, of the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, writes in the BMJ: "With over 500,000 violent deaths there will no doubt have been many more people exposed to grave violence.
"It therefore seems likely that the nation of Iraq may suffer a double blow, firstly by losing a sizeable proportion of its population - and the study shows that 15-45 year olds are most commonly affected - and secondly by the serious consequence of people with post-traumatic stress disorder. This may also be compounded by cultural barriers that prevent people from seeking psychological help."
Dr Reschen pointed out that while the coalition forces' medical facilities have been used to treat injured civilians in Iraq, nothing similar has been done for those suffering mental illness.
"We must learn the lessons of history and expedite the psychiatric help for Iraqi civilians," he added.
Dr Reschen is the latest medical figure to point out the psychological cost being incurred in Iraq. Dr Majid al-Yassiri, the chairman of the London-based Centre for Psychosocial Services in Iraq, has said: "Children in particular are showing behavioural problems and depression at a higher rate than one would expect in a population this size - three times as high. The impact of torture, war, continuous trauma and bereavement will take its toll on families."
Dr Yassiri said many Iraqis were reluctant to admit to mental health problems. "There is a stigma. Women in particular are less likely to seek help unless they become psychotic or suicidal, because of the fear of being seen as mad and not being able to marry," he said.
Iraq's largest psychological hospital, which had more than 1,500 beds, was destroyed in the war. Another hospital has a psychological unit but it has only two doctors.
Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
Model's video shoot on the beach interrupted by sudden landing of a group of illegal migrants
Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
Coroners must send bodies for scans rather than autopsies if religion demands they stay intact, High Court rules
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
- 1 Norwich paedophile ring: Woman at centre of gang who made children 'sexual play things' guilty of 23 offences
- 2 Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
- 3 Black and ethnic minority people twice as likely to be hit by Tory cuts than white people, report finds
- 4 Walter Palmer: Cecil the lion killer revealed to be American dentist
- 5 The lesser known erogenous zones - and how to find them
£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join the ho...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing Manager sought for pr...
£30000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you motivated to hit and ex...