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BMC Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 20;18(1):206. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1783-y.

Prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses in asylum seekers with follow-up.

Author information

1
Clinic Nuremberg, University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Paracelsus Private Medical University, Nuremberg, Germany. kneginja.richter@gmx.de.
2
Faculty for Social Sciences, Technical University for Applied Sciences Georg Simon Ohm, Nuremberg, Germany. kneginja.richter@gmx.de.
3
Faculty for Medical Sciences, University Goce Delcev, Stip, Macedonia. kneginja.richter@gmx.de.
4
Clinic Nuremberg, University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Paracelsus Private Medical University, Nuremberg, Germany.
5
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical Faculty, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, Germany.
6
Faculty for Social Sciences, Technical University for Applied Sciences Georg Simon Ohm, Nuremberg, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In the study, the frequency and nature of asylum seekers' psychiatric diagnoses in a German admission center were examined. Additional aims were to identify changes in those diagnoses over time and to investigate health care utilization of mentally ill asylum seekers in the community.

METHODS:

The sample for the study "Psychiatric Examination of Asylum Seekers" in Bavaria consisted of a total of 283 asylum seekers and included 2 subsamples: help-seeking individuals and a randomly selected group. 34 of all asylum seekers were part of an extensive psychiatric follow-up examination (t2) about six months after the first examination (t1). Here, we used psychometric tools and a psychiatric interview by a medical doctor and a psychologist with the help of translators.

RESULTS:

79% of help-seekers and 45% of the random group received at least one psychiatric diagnosis at t1. The most frequent diagnoses were trauma- and stress-related disorders, affective disorders, and insomnia. Men and Muslims were underrepresented in the help-seeking group. In the follow-up subsample, the rate of psychiatric diagnoses went down from 74% at t1 to 38% at t2. In contrast, the number of PTSD cases increased from 4 at t1 to 7 at t2. The severity of PTSD symptoms such as hyperarousal and avoidance also increased. Of the 13 persons in the follow-up-sample diagnosed with depression at t1, only 2 still fit the criteria of the disease at t2. Only 5 subjects had received some sort of psychotherapy or counseling.

CONCLUSION:

The prevalence of mental illness in asylum seekers reported here corresponds to the usual range in the literature. It is significantly higher than in European civil society, especially regarding PTSD. At t2, the diagnoses of PTDS had increased within several months without evident additional traumatic events. Asylum seekers' psychiatric diagnoses soon after arrival should be recorded carefully and examination should be repeated after six months. The psychiatric and psychotherapeutic treatment of asylum seekers is still insufficient. Psychoeducative steps should be taken to relieve the stigma on mental illness, especially among males and Muslims.

KEYWORDS:

Asylum seekers; Depression; Insomnia; Mental health; PTSD; Refugees

PMID:
29925338
PMCID:
PMC6011353
DOI:
10.1186/s12888-018-1783-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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