A refugee population exposed to aerial bombing was assessed for psychosocial sequelae within two months. Forty-three members over 15 years were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Seventy-four percent had experienced an immediate but transient stress reaction. Subsequently, PTSD, anxiety, depressive and somatic symptoms were common. Forty-four percent met the DSM III diagnostic criteria for PTSD. In addition, social withdrawal, irritability and hostility, interpersonal relationship problems and functional disability were found. Although a variety of psychosocial symptoms were seen, it is suggested that part of this response be considered as manifestation of a healthy, normal attempt to cope with a severely traumatizing experience. The effects of collective trauma and social methods of treatment are also described. Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.

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