“1 in 5 people have mental health condition in conflict zones”: The Lancet

Being in the rat race and meeting deadlines daily are sure causes of mental health disorders. Don’t we hear of dreadful mishaps relating to road rage every other day? However, this impact on health is increased manifold in conflict ridden areas of the world.

According to an analysis of 129 studies published in the general medical journal, The Lancet, on 11 June, 2019, one in five people, or 22 percent living in an area affected by conflict, has depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and about 9 percent of conflict-affected populations have a moderate to severe mental health condition. The figures are substantially higher than the global estimate for these mental health conditions in the general population, which stands at one in 14 people.

Depression and anxiety appeared to increase with age in conflict settings, and depression was more common among women than men, the study states.

The latest findings suggest that past studies underestimated the burden of mental health conditions in conflict-affected areas – with higher rates of severe mental health conditions (5 percent at any one time in the new study compared to 3-4 percent over a 12-month-period in the 2005 estimates), and also of mild to moderate mental health conditions (17 percent at any one time in the new estimates compared to 15-20 percent over a 12-month period in previous estimates), The Lancetreports.

“I am confident that our study provides the most accurate estimates available today of the prevalence of mental health conditions in areas of conflict,” The Lancet quoted lead author of the study Fiona Charlson of the University of Queensland, Australia and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, USA. “Estimates from previous studies have been inconsistent, with some finding inconceivably low or high rates. In this study we used more stringent inclusion and exclusion criteria for the literature search, and advanced search strategies and statistical methods.”

Currently, there are major conflict-induced humanitarian crises in a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. In 2016, the number of armed conflicts reached an all-time high, with 53 ongoing conflicts in 37 countries and 12% of the world’s population living in an active conflict zone, reports The Lancet.