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Study finds increased anxiety and PTSD among people who remained in Ukraine

Survey of mental health and exposure to blasts reveals differences among displaced people who remained within the country compared to refugees

Date:
April 11, 2024
Source:
PLOS
Summary:
Researchers conducted a survey to understand how the mental health of displaced Ukrainians has been affected by the ongoing war. Their findings describe high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety among both refugees and people displaced within Ukraine.
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Researchers from the International Blast Injury Research Network at the University of Southampton conducted a survey to understand how the mental health of displaced Ukrainians has been affected by the ongoing war. Their findings, published in PLOS Global Public Health, describe high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety among both refugees and people displaced within Ukraine.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, at least 13 million people have been displaced from their homes. Both exposure to war and displacement -- specifically loss of community, housing and economic resources -- affect mental health. These impacts tend to be magnified among the elderly, those caring for children, and otherwise vulnerable populations.

Between April and July of 2022, the researchers surveyed over 8,000 participants, all of whom were either refugees or people displaced within Ukraine. The participants answered questions about their current circumstances, their mental health, and their exposures to blasts -- explosions caused by bombs or other military actions.

Nearly 8 out of 10 participants who remained in Ukraine and more than half of refugees reported blast exposure. Almost 70 percent of all survey participants reported anxiety, with people remaining in Ukraine reporting higher anxiety and more frequent flashbacks to traumatic events compared to refugees. Flashbacks are a symptom of PTSD and can range from fleeting, intrusive memories to minutes-long episodes where a person feels they are reliving the traumatic events -- in this study, the frequency of flashbacks was correlated to blast exposure.

Overall, this study suggests displaced people remaining in Ukraine face poorer mental health outcomes compared to refugees, likely because of their ongoing exposure to war. However, refugees still face considerable mental health challenges. The researchers emphasize, "Mental health and psychosocial support must be prioritized within humanitarian relief."

The authors add: "Exposure to blast events can be incredibly distressing. Our survey of 8300 Ukrainian respondents show that almost 70% reported witnessing a blast event during the first 4 months of Russia's full-scale invasion in 2022. Most worryingly, many respondents who were blast-exposed reported adverse mental health outcomes, including symptoms of PTSD."


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Materials provided by PLOS. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ken Brackstone, Michael G. Head, Brienna Perelli-Harris. Effects of blast exposure on anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among displaced Ukrainian populations. PLOS Global Public Health, 2024; 4 (4): e0002623 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0002623

Cite This Page:

PLOS. "Study finds increased anxiety and PTSD among people who remained in Ukraine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 April 2024. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240411165914.htm>.
PLOS. (2024, April 11). Study finds increased anxiety and PTSD among people who remained in Ukraine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240411165914.htm
PLOS. "Study finds increased anxiety and PTSD among people who remained in Ukraine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2024/04/240411165914.htm (accessed May 28, 2024).

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