Mental health symptoms in Iraqi refugees: posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression

Hikmet Jamil, Mohamed Farrag, Julie Hakim-Larson, Talib Kafaji, Husam Abdulkhaleq, Adnan Hammad
Journal of Cultural Diversity 2007, 14 (1): 19-25
Refugees suffer from a higher rate of mental health symptoms than the general population since they have experienced extreme suffering and the accumulated effects of trauma. Because of the diversity of regions from which refugees originate, there is a need to understand some of the unique experiences that are specific to each sub-groups of immigrants. The purpose of the present study was to explore mental health symptoms in Iraqi refugee clients who immigrated to the United States after the Gulf War of the early 1990's. As part of a larger study, 116 adult Iraqi immigrants to the United States (46 male, 70 females) who were seeking mental health services completed measures of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. As expected, the majority of refugees reported intense anxiety and depression, and many met the DSM IV criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. Like refugees from other countries-of-origin, Iraqi refugees are in need of culturally sensitive assessment and mental health treatment. The results are discussed in light of the treatment needs of Iraqi refugee clients, their resilience and motivation for a better life, and the ways that health professionals can assist in optimizing their adjustment.

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