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However, these related conditions cause many symptoms and characteristic signs that are similar across each different type:. While most mental illnesses have no definite or single cause, trauma disorders can almost always be traced to one or more traumatic experiences. For instance, many men and women returning from active service in the military experienced or witnessed traumatic events, and in some of them these experiences trigger PTSD later.

Not everyone who experiences trauma will develop a trauma disorder. Two people may experience or witness the same trauma, and one may develop a disorder while the other does not. Why this happens is not fully understood, but there are risk factors that make some people more prone to trauma disorders:. Having a trauma disorder may increase the risk of having other mental illnesses or a substance use disorder.

Someone with a trauma disorder, especially when it is undiagnosed or untreated, may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and escape from negative feelings. This can lead to a substance use disorder. People with trauma disorders are also more likely to have other mental illnesses, either triggered or worsened by the trauma, or simply because they have similar risk factors to trauma disorders. Experiencing trauma and being unable to cope with it in healthy ways may also predispose someone to suicide.


Anyone with a trauma disorder may be vulnerable to suicidal thoughts, but those with severe symptoms or who are not receiving treatment may be at the greatest risk. These may include damaged and difficult relationships , difficulties at work or school, lost jobs, financial problems, isolation and loneliness, insomnia, injuries from impulsive behaviors and angry outbursts, and legal troubles.

While trauma disorders cause a lot of distress and impairment, they can be treated and managed. Because the symptoms can be severe and patients can be at risk of causing themselves harm, treatment in a residential setting is one of the most effective ways to address a trauma disorder. There, the patient can be treated with a variety of therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps change negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors. Exposure therapy can also be used to help patients become desensitized to traumatic memories and to learn and practice healthy coping strategies.

This is especially useful for people who experience flashbacks or nightmares.

Trauma Disorders

Guided eye movements through eye movement desensitization and reprocessing have been shown to help patients process trauma and react more calmly to memories of the event. Medications can also be used as an adjunct to therapy for traumatic disorders but cannot treat them alone. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help patients feel better as they learn to work through the trauma. A medication that can suppress nightmares may also be used in some cases, as well as sleep aids.

The experience of trauma can be devastating and when the normal response to it extends beyond the usual timeframe or is severe, there may be an underlying trauma disorder.

Complex Trauma and its Effects on Child Development

Fortunately, dedicated treatment has been shown to be effective in managing the symptoms by learning and using healthy coping strategies, changing negative thoughts and behaviors, and relying on loved ones and others for support. Our Locations. Our Program. We are here to listen compassionately. Our free, confidential telephone consultation will help you find treatment that will work for you, whether it is with us or a different program.

We can guide you in approaching a loved one who needs treatment.

Mental health | MSF medical activities

Skip to content Get Help Search for:. Some people find it helpful to speak about their experiences with other people who also have PTSD. Of these medications, only paroxetine and sertraline are licensed specifically for the treatment of PTSD. Amitriptyline or phenelzine will usually only be used under the supervision of a mental health specialist. Before prescribing a medication, your doctor should inform you about possible side effects you may have while taking it, along with any possible withdrawal symptoms when the medication is withdrawn. Possible withdrawal symptoms associated with paroxetine include sleep disturbances, intense dreams, anxiety and irritability.

This normally involves a course of 6 to 12 sessions that have been adapted to suit the child's age, circumstances and level of development. Visit GOV. Page last reviewed: 27 September Next review due: 27 September The category of orthopedic non-trauma includes chronic conditions that did not involve a recent injury, such as pain stemming from old injuries. The DSM-5 recognizes that PTSD is derived from experience or threat of traumatic events, including torture, injuries, sexual assaults or other violent behavior. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the characteristics of the sample.

Linkages between diagnoses to exposure to stressful events and period of time until presentation to the clinic, number of visits to the clinic and different diagnoses were investigated using chi square test. All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS software version P -values lower than 0. Utilization of the clinic was plotted against demographic characteristics, experiences in the Sinai desert and diagnoses, presented in Fig.

The variables entered to the model were demographics and experiences in the Sinai desert. Table 2. Asylum-seekers that sought care earlier presented with a significantly lower prevalence of PTSD 3. They also presented lower prevalence of non-trauma orthopedic complaints 4.

A logistic regression model was used to assess factors associated with PTSD. The variables entered to the model were demographic, experiences in the Sinai desert and clinic visits. The model suggested that gender male OR 5. Table 4 Fig. Limited access to healthcare services and development of varied mental health symptomatology have been identified as characteristic of displaced populations [ 21 , 22 , 23 ]. Individuals with witnessed traumatic events frequently display mental health disorders [ 24 , 25 ].

Similar to previous studies, the current study suggests that the combination of torture in the context of acculturation may result in increased signs of mental illness [ 10 , 11 , 12 ].


Contrary to numerous prior studies that suggest a higher prevalence of PTSD among women [ 13 , 23 , 26 ], the current study identifies a higher prevalence among men. It may also result from the expectation of men to be primary providers, so that the inability to appropriately function in this role may aggravate their mental health.

It should though be noted that not only the traumatic events themselves, but also the harsh life encountered by the asylum-seekers in their origin countries, their current financial loss and diminished hope for the future, may likewise contribute to significant psychologic damage. It was surprising that PTSD among asylum-seekers appears to be associated more with the overall length of exposure to stressful events rather than the actual number of traumatic episodes.

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Several studies presented that the severity and number of traumatic events encountered by the asylum seekers are related to the development of PTSD [ 10 , 11 , 15 ]. The current study proposes that exposure to even one type of stressful traumatic event is sufficient to contribute to the onset of PTSD. These findings strengthen the idea that despite the number of traumatic stressors, individuals exposed to protracted periods of displacement may have increased PTSD and mental health problems [ 5 , 23 ].

Similarly, the need to pay higher ransoms in order to be released from captivity was found to be related with higher levels of PTSD. As displaced populations often do not have strong support systems that they can approach to pay the required ransom, this demand presents a highly stressful traumatic event.

Social support has been found to be a protective factor against development of PTSD, even in cases of exposure to traumatic events [ 5 ]. The lack of these support systems most probably contributes to an enhanced vulnerability of this population. Patients with delayed medical care had a higher utilization of healthcare services over time. Given the current context where numerous countries have developed increasingly restrictive policies concerning access to healthcare for displaced populations, this may have a detrimental impact financially [ 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 ].

Given the increasing global burden of displaced populations around the world, the need for improved accessibility must be highlighted. Enhancing access to medical services may significantly decrease the development of PTSD among asylum-seekers and ultimately less resources will be required to treat this population [ 15 ]. The study has several limitations. The lack of information concerning asylum seekers who did not present to the PHR clinic seeking medical care may be confounding. In addition, this study retrospectively compares groups of patients who are demographically similar, but were assessed by different medical providers.

To conclude, it is vital to understand risk and protective factors of asylum-seekers in relation to access to medical care, to tailor the medical treatment to their needs and ease their acclimatization in the receiving country.

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Consequently, it may be possible to reduce their vulnerability and development of PTSD and achieve a more efficient utilization of healthcare resources. Implementing outreach measures that integrate vulnerable populations into the healthcare and social framework earlier would be expected to alleviate suffering and achieve a more successful absorption of displaced populations in societies world-wide.

The data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article; if any additional data is requested, please approach the corresponding author adini tauex. Calling for the next WHO Global Health initiative: the use of disruptive innovation to meet the health care needs of displaced populations. J Glob Health. Migrant and refugee populations: a public health and policy perspective on a continuing global crisis.

Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. Figures at a glance. For what illnesses do asylum seekers and undocumented migrant Workers in Israel Seek Healthcare? The association between perceived social support and posttraumatic stress symptoms among Eritrean and Sudanese male asylum seekers in Israel. Int J Cult Mental Health. Raijman R. Asylum seekers and refugees in Israel.

Hagira — Israel Journal of Migration. Exposure to traumatic experiences among asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan during migration to Israel.

Abuse, trauma, and mental health

J Immig Minority Health. Violence en route: Eritrean women asylum-seekers experiences of sexual violence while migrating to Israel. Health Care Women Int. Van Reisen M, Rijken C. Sinai trafficking: origin and definition of a new form of human trafficking. Social Inclusion.

Lancet Pub Health. Psychological interventions for post-traumatic stress disorder in refugees and asylum seekers: a systematic review and meta-analysis.