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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 May;14(4):285-93.

Report from the CDC: mental health of women in postwar Afghanistan.

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  • 1International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch, Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA. bhc8@cdc.gov


More than two decades of war and a culture that has denied women freedom of movement, access to healthcare, and education have affected the mental health status of Afghan women more than that of men. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a national population-based mental health survey in Afghanistan. The prevalence of symptoms of depression was 73% (standard error [SE] 8.15) and 59% (SE 5.59), of symptoms of anxiety was 84% (SE 2.98) and 59% (SE 8.65), and of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 48% (SE 6.19) and 32% (SE 4.22) for female and male respondents, respectively. Mean scores for social functioning were lower for women (52.00 [SE 2.77]) than for men (66.63 [SE 3.92]). Women had significantly lower mental health status and poorer social functioning than did men. Results of our survey underscore the need for financial donors and healthcare planners to address the current lack of mental healthcare resources, facilities, and trained mental healthcare professionals in Afghanistan and to establish mental health services directed at the specific needs of women. This study highlights the negative impact that war, restrictions in freedoms, and socioeconomic hardship have had on the mental health and social functioning of women in Afghanistan.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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