Determinants of Mental Disorders in Syrian Refugees in Turkey Versus Internally Displaced Persons in Syria

Am J Public Health. 2018 Jul;108(7):938-945. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304405. Epub 2018 May 17.


Objectives: To compare frequencies of some mental health disorders between Syrian refugees living in Turkey and internally displaced persons in Syria, and to identify factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

Methods: We carried out a field survey in May 2017 among 540 internally displaced persons in Syria and refugees in Turkey.

Results: The study revealed that mental disorders were highly prevalent in both populations. Major depressive disorder was more frequent among refugees in Turkey than among internally displaced persons in Syria; other mental disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder, were more prevalent in the latter than in the former. Posttraumatic stress disorder was also associated with postmigration factors. Major depressive disorder was more likely among refugees in Turkey. In addition, the likelihood of major depressive disorder was predicted by stopping somewhere else before resettlement in the current location.

Conclusions: The resettlement locus and the context and type of displacement seem to be important determinants of mental health disorders, with postmigration factors being stronger predictors of conflict-related mental health. Internally displaced persons may benefit more from trauma-focused approaches, whereas refugees may derive greater benefit from psychosocial approaches.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / ethnology
  • Family Relations
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mental Disorders / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • Syria / ethnology
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Young Adult