Syrian Children Are Suffering From Toxic Stress After Six Years Of War [VIDEO]
The six-year war in Syria has spawned a mental health crisis among Syrian children. They could be living in a state of toxic stress due to daily trauma. International charity Save the Children said on Tuesday that the effects of war will be felt for decades to come.
Their report, Invisible Wounds, showed the largest mental health survey inside Syria was during the war. They also found that children were increasingly crippled by fear or anger. A great deal of damage to an entire generation.
Two-thirds of Syrian children have experienced loss of a loved one, their houses bombed and has suffered injuries, which resulted in severe emotional distress. Sleep deprivation, bedwetting and withdrawn behavior to self-harm and suicide attempts were some of the effects. Some even had lost the ability to speak.
In 2011, researchers went to seven provinces mainly in rebel-held areas, such as Idlib, Aleppo and Kurdish-controlled Hasaka. More than 450 children, parents, teachers, and psychologists were interviewed.
The conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, it made more than 11 million Syrians homeless and has created the world's worst refugee crisis. Save the Children said some children were forced to join armed groups to survive.
Toxic stress if left untreated could disrupt the development of the brain during formative years. Which can cause health problems into adulthood, such as depression and heart disease according to Reuters.
Most children affected by toxic stress tend to become more aggressive and showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Lack of schools has worsened the crisis, schools were turned into shelters, military bases or torture chambers. Toxic stress also resulted in domestic violence, a young boy recruited to the army and girls married off as young as 12.
The charity called for more mental health programs, adequate funding for psychological resources, and training for teachers across Syria to help treat toxic stress. They saw mental health and psychosocial support programs were showing success and needed to be scaled up with support from the international community, according to BBC.