PTSD and mental health problems are significantly more common among refugees and asylum seekers than among the general population, compatriots who remain in the refugees’ home country, and economic migrants. Exposure to a high number of potentially traumatic events, involvement in asylum-seeking procedures and forced migration are stressors that set refugees apart from other populations and increase their psychological vulnerability. Western psychiatry may be able to guide treatment interventions for refugees with PTSD and comorbid disorders by understanding their determinants. The development of PTSD in refugees has been mainly predicted by torture and cumulative traumatic events, according to meta-analyses. Researchers have also begun to investigate whether different symptom profiles in refugees are related to different traumatic experiences. According to Momartin et al, life threat and traumatic loss were associated with PTSD and depression in a sample of Bosnian refugees. Common comorbid conditions with PTSD among refugees include affective disorders, persistent pain disorders, anxiety disorders, and dissociative disorders. PTSD is associated with depression in 40% of refugees with PTSD, according to a meta-analysis including 17 interviews with refugees with PTSD.
It is well known that refugees in their host country face difficulties accessing mental health care due to the unknown health care system, linguistic difficulties, cultural differences in the perception of illness, and a lack of trust. Refugees with PTSD grealty need mental health services.
The results of these studies are highly relevant to treatment-seeking refugees, however, no similar analyses have yet been carried out on large samples of treatment-seeking refugees. We examine whether the severity of symptoms of PTSD and depression is predicted by refugee status, accumulation of traumatic events, and specific traumatic domains in a sample of refugees seeking mental healthcare.