Refugees At Higher Risk For Schizophrenia

Refugees are more likely to experience psychosis, including schizophrenia, compared with non-refugee migrants from similar regions of the country, according to a study inThe BMJ.

Previous research suggested that refugees from North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia often experience more mental health issues in comparison to non-refugee immigrants. Researchers are now exploring the risk of psychotic episodes and the reasons migrants experience them.

In the study, refugees granted asylum in Sweden were 66 percent more likely than non-refugee migrants to suffer from schizophrenia or a different non-affective psychotic disorder. The explanation for the higher rates of psychosis may have to do with previous adversities.

Past exposure to traumatic events

According to the study, "Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that increased risk of non-affective psychotic disorders among immigrants is due to a higher frequency of exposure to social adversity before migration, including the effects of war, violence or persecution."

The researchers stated the importance of taking into account these exposures to traumatic events - which can help professionals diagnose and assist migrants with mental health complications.

These sentiments were echoed in an editorial linked to the study by Cornelis Katon, medical director at the Helen Bamber Foundation. "A robust mental health response to the refugee crisis must lie in a combination of clinical vigilance, recognition of vulnerability factors, and above all, a determination to minimize the aggravating effects of post-migration experiences."

Source: The BMJ

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