A study just released in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems
investigated the trauma-related psychological impact of living under occupation had on Palestinian men, women and children.
Between 2005 to 2008, in cooperation with Doctors Without Borders and with support from local and international NGOs, 1,369 patients from the Gaza Strip and Nablus were apart of this study. Each patient was interviewed by mental health professionals and asked questioned based upon mental health disorder characteristics appearing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -Fourth Addition – (DSM IV).
Research showed that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorders, and depression affected Palestinians from both the Gaza Strip and Nablus. Children under the age of 15 were far more likely to experience PTSD and adults were plagued most commonly by depression. Only 144 patients showed no affects at all. Most patients experienced a traumatic experience within a year of the study and had no prior mental health issues.
Among the patients, "23.2% reported post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], 17.3% anxiety disorder (other than PTSD or acute stress disorder), and 15.3% depression," according to the report.
Experiences reported to affect children most were being witness to murder, receiving threats and being victims of sexual violence and physical abuse. Receiving threats and being victims of sexual violence and physical abuse were also instrumental in the adults mental disorder, along with the death of close family members. Other traumatic experiences affecting the mental health of both were the destruction of property, being forced to flee their homes, and incarceration.
The long term affects of being party to these traumatic experiences are still undetermined. This study does not affect those that were witness to Operation Cast Lead.