Report from the CDC: Mental Health of Women in Postwar Afghanistan


Cardozo, Barbara L., Oleg O. Bilukha, Carol A. Gotway, Mitchel I. Wolfe, Michael L. Gerber, and Mark Anderson. 2005. "Report from the CDC: Mental Health of Women in Postwar Afghanistan." Journal of Women's Health 14 (4): 285-93.

Authors: Barbara L. Cardozo, Oleg O. Bilukha, Carol A. Gotway, Mitchel I. Wolfe, Michael L. Gerber, Mark Anderson


More than two decades of war and a culture that has denied women freedom of movement, access to healthcare, and education have affected the mental health status of Afghan women more than that of men. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a national population-based mental health survey in Afghanistan. The prevalence of symptoms of depression was 73% (standard error [SE] 8.15) and 59% (SE 5.59), of symptoms of anxiety was 84% (SE 2.98) and 59% (SE 8.65), and of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was 48% (SE 6.19) and 32% (SE 4.22) for female and male respondents, respectively. Mean scores for social functioning were lower for women (52.00 [SE 2.77]) than for men (66.63 [SE 3.92]). Women had significantly lower mental health status and poorer social functioning than did men. Results of our survey underscore the need for financial donors and healthcare planners to address the current lack of mental healthcare resources, facilities, and trained mental healthcare professionals in Afghanistan and to establish mental health services directed at the specific needs of women. This study highlights the negative impact that war, restrictions in freedoms, and socioeconomic hardship have had on the mental health and social functioning of women in Afghanistan.

Keywords: mental health, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, female refugees

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Post-Conflict Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2005

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