This paper estimates the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among internally displaced people in camps at Debre Berhan, Amhara Regional State, Ethiopia. At the time this research was undertaken, there were three IDP camps in Debre Berhan: Sunflower camp (2956 IDPs), Teacher’s College (1340 IDPs), and China (568 IDPs).
PTSD is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM5), as being composed of four groups of symptoms that include intrusive and recurring memories of trauma, avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, numbness, and/or negative mood or changes in perception related to trauma and changes in reactivity and arousal. Estimates of PTSD using the DSM5 criteria are based on a survey of 406 IDPs (above age 18) carried out in December 2021. Respondents were selected by random systematic sampling from registration data.
- There is a very high prevalence of PTSD among IDPs. Sixty-eight percent of respondents met the criteria for PTSD, of whom more than half (53 percent) were women. Individuals aged 45-64 years were the most affected age group, with a prevalence rate of 71 percent.
- Being a farmer, witnessing the destruction of property, experiencing trauma during displacement, frequency of displacement, being distressed, and being unemployed were associated with PTSD. Merchants were 59 percent less likely to have developed PTSD compared to farmers. IDP who witnessed the destruction of property were 1.67 times more likely to have PTSD compared to those who hadn’t witnessed the destruction of property. IDPs who experienced any type of trauma during displacement were six times more likely to have PTSD compared to those who did not experience trauma. Counterintuitively, individuals who were internally displaced three or more times were 69 percent less likely to have developed PTSD than first-time IDPs. Individuals feeling distressed were more than five times more likely to have PTSD than those without feelings of distress. IDP who were unemployed were twice as likely to have PTSD compared to those who were employed. Sex, age, and marital status had no statistically significant association with PTSD.
The authors call for effective mental health services that combine medical treatment, psychological and social welfare programs for the IDP population in Ethiopia.