• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Refugee crisis
Refugees at higher risk of schizophrenia: Swedish study
Refugees arriving in Trelleborg, southern Sweden, last year. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Refugees at higher risk of schizophrenia: Swedish study

AFP/The Local · 16 Mar 2016, 15:18

Published: 16 Mar 2016 15:18 GMT+01:00

Refugees are already known to be at increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, but the study, published in the BMJ medical journal this week also showed a higher risk of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Conducted by researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute and University College London, the study used data from 1.3 million teens from the Swedish national register and followed them for 13 years.

The survey group included Swedes with two natural citizen parents, refugees and other migrants, with many originating from the Middle East and north Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia.

The study found that for every 10,000 people, there were approximately four new diagnoses of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders among Swedish-born people per year.

But among non-refugee migrants that figure was eight, and 12 among refugees.

The findings applied to both men and women, but was most pronounced for men.

"The dramatically increased risk among refugees shows that life events are a significant risk factor for schizophrenia," Anna-Clara Hollander, the study's lead author from Karolinska's Department of Public Health Sciences, said in a statement.


Sweden's Karolinska Institute, where some of the research was carried out. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Schizophrenia is a chronic, often debilitating illness. Symptoms often include hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.

The disease usually starts during the transition to adulthood and is thought to be provoked by genetic as well as social circumstances.

Traumatic events such as persecution, conflict or natural disasters contribute to the risk of developing disorders, Hollander said.

"We know that refugees are a vulnerable group, facing many social, economic, physical and mental health challenges in their lives," said co-author James Kirkbride from University College London Psychiatry.

The study, he said, highlights "the need for specialist care and support. In most countries refugees undergo standard health checks, but mental health issues can be overlooked".

Story continues below…

The research was conducted using Swedish national registry data up until December 2011, so it does not include recent migrants.

But there is nothing to suggest that people displaced by recent conflicts will be any less vulnerable than those granted refugee status in the past, according to the study.

Sweden took in a record batch of asylum seekers in 2015, receiving 163,000 applications.

However it has seen the number of migrant arrivals fall sharply since it introduced police border controls in November, followed by passenger ID checks at ferry terminals and Copenhagen Airport's train station at the turn of the year. 

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Drunken Christmas goat burner risks four years in jail
The Christmas goat looks at the fireworks and contemplates its future. Photo: Mats Åstrand/TT

His singed eyebrows were a dead giveaway.

Joe Biden: 'Sweden has shown great leadership'
Joe Biden, left, and Stefan Löfven. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

US Vice President Joe Biden praised Sweden for "punching way above its weight" in the global refugee crisis.

Nepal's Sherpas rebuild Swedish mountain paths
Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountain. Photo: Stockholms Universitet

Nepalese sherpas have been called in to improve hillwalking safety on Sweden's highest mountain Kebnekaise.

23 people tricked into renting the same Malmö apartment
Sweden's housing market is notoriously tricky. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

"I have never felt so stupid and so conned."

Sweden on standby to help earthquake-hit Italy
Rescue workers search through the debris. Photo: AP Photo/Sandro Perozzi

Swedish authorities are ready, if asked, to quickly assist Italy as it recovers from a deadly earthquake.

We harmed Sweden's teachers and should apologize: prof
A tired pupil at a school in Stockholm. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

"The situation is very worrying," says Professor Jonas Linderoth.

US keeper kicked off team for calling Swedes cowards
Hope Solo made her comments after Sweden knocked the US team out of the Olympics. Photo: Eugenio Savio/AP

The US team will be Hope-less for six months.

Five must-see cultural events in Sweden this weekend
Like The Bridge? You'll love one of the events we've picked out for this weekend. Photo: Erland Vinberg/TT

The summer is almost over but Sweden saved the best for last with these cultural events this weekend – including one that will make The Bridge fans happy.

Was there a secret plot to kill Swedish ex-UN chief?
Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN's Secretary General, pictured months before his death in 1961. Photo: TT

Ban Ki-moon wants to find out.

Joe Biden to arrive in Sweden for refugee talks
Stefan Löfven meets Joe Biden during a visit to Washington in March 2015. Photo: Monica Enqvist/Government Offices of Sweden

US Vice President Joe Biden will arrive in Stockholm on Wednesday evening ahead of talks with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that are expected to focus on migration and refugees.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
Gallery
IN PICS: Your Sweden summer snaps
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,376
jobs available