Prevalence of depression and associated factors among community hosted internally displaced people of Tigray; during war and siege

Aregawi Gebreyesus, Afewerki Tesfahunegn Niguse, Fiyori Shishay, Liya Mamo, Teklit Gebremedhin, Kahsu Tsegay, Asqual Gebreslasie Gebremariam, Kokob Gebru Kidanu, Solomon Gidey, and Fisaha Tesfay

BMC Psychiatry, Volume 24 (2024), Article number 3


This study estimates the prevalence of depression and associated factors among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Tigray, Ethiopia. Between November 2020 and September 2021, an estimated 2.1 million people were displaced by armed conflict in Tigray between the Tigray regional government and the Ethiopian federal government.

Data was collected using a structured questionnaire in all woredas (districts) of the Tigray region in 2021, covering 1,965 heads of displaced households. Information was collected on the socio-demographic characteristics of household members, household assets, health and disabilities, and the death and separation of family members. Additionally, the questionnaire included a checklist for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) based on the criteria of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders (DSM-IV).

Main findings:

  • The prevalence of depression among IDPs was 81 percent, with 67 percent of participants classified as having moderate to severe depression.
  • Factors that increased the risk of depression among IDPs included marital status, occupation, family size, destruction of household assets, and having disabled family members due to the war. Married and divorced individuals had a higher prevalence of depression compared to single individuals. Government employees and daily labourers were more likely to experience depression compared to farmers, possibly due to the absence of salary and job opportunities during the war. The prevalence of depression increased with larger family sizes. The loss of property, looting of cereals, and injury of family members due to the war were also significant factors associated with depression among the IDPs.

The prevalence of depression among IDPs in Tigray is very high compared to similar studies conducted elsewhere. The findings underscore the urgent need for psychosocial health intervention for IDPs displaced by the war in the Tigray region.