n South African Psychiatry Review - Traumatic stress and psychopathology : experiences of a trauma clinic : original article

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1811-7805



<I>Objective:</I> The study was undertaken to investigate the profile of individuals referred to the psychiatrist for assessment in terms of their demographic features, trauma experienced, diagnosis according to the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), and recommendations made by the psychiatrist. <BR><I>Method:</I> The trauma clinic, a key component of the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Johannesburg, South Africa is a multidisciplinary unit offering counselling and debriefing services to victims / survivors of violence. The staff consists of trained therapists (clinical, research and educational psychologists), social workers and a psychiatric nurse. Since 1998, a psychiatrist has been consulting at the clinic as well. A retrospective case review of all intake notes and progress notes of the clients was undertaken. The period of the survey was 1999-2002. <BR><I>Results:</I> Of 3668 individuals presenting to the centre, 127 were referred to the resident psychiatrist for assessment. 119 were assessed. The majority were in the age range 15-45, unmarried and unemployed. Children under the age of 15 and refugees constituted 9.9% and 30% respectively. Major Depression was the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric condition (17.6%), with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), diagnosed less than expected (5.9%). Co- morbidity was common. Medication was prescribed for 66.4% of the sample, with a further 5.9% hospitalised. <BR><I>Conclusion:</I> Not all individuals exposed to trauma develop PTSD, with mood disorders possibly being more common.

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