Guidelines for Psychiatric Care of Torture Survivors

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Refugees and asylum seekers who are torture survivors have a high risk of psychiatric disorders. A great deal is known about the biology of these disorders and their treatments. Psychotropic medications can provide rapid improvement in symptoms and therefore need to be initiated early in treatment. All survivors who have positive symptoms should have a full psychiatric evaluation including current history, past psychosocial history, medical history, mental status examination, and a 5-axis diagnosis. There is very strong evidence that associated depression of torture victims may be effectively treated by antidepressant medication. There is good evidence that nightmares and sleep disturbance may be relieved by adrenergic blocking agents, such as clonidine and prazosin. There is some evidence that low doses of an antipsychotic medication, such as risperidone, helps agitation and irritability. There is no evidence that medication can help avoidance and numbing symptoms or prevent exacerbations of symptoms after new trauma.

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Kinzie, J. D. (2011). Guidelines for psychiatric care of torture survivors.  Torture,  21(1), 18-26.

About This Study:

Outcome(s): Anxiety Reduction, Depression Reduction, PTSD Reduction
Intervention(s): Mental health and psychosocial support services
Intervention Duration: Varies by study
Relevant ORR Program: Ethnic Community Self-Help Program, Preferred Communities, Refugee Health Promotion, Refugee Support Services, Unaccompanied Refugee Minors
Study Type: Systematic review
Full Text Availability: Free
Direction of Evidence: Inconclusive or mixed impact, Positive impact
Strength of Evidence: Strong
Population(s): Refugees, Unaccompanied Minors
Gender(s) of Participants: All
Age(s) of Participants: Multiple Age Groups
Region(s) of Origin of Participants: Multiple Regions

Relevant Evidence Summaries:

The evidence was reviewed and included in the following summaries: