Multiple Forms of Stress in Cambodian Adolescent Refugees


  • This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1-MH42927-02).

Requests for reprints should be directed to William Sack, M.D., Division of Child Psychiatry OP331, Oregon Health Sciences University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97201-3098.


A sample of 170 Cambodian youth and 80 of their mothers were interviewed regarding DSM-III-R diagnoses of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depressive disorders, and the stress of war trauma, resettlement, and recent life events. A consistent relation between earlier war trauma, resettlement stress, and symptoms of PTSD was found. In contrast, the strongest relation with depressive symptoms was found for recent stressful events. Despite the long interval of time since the occurrence of the war trauma, these youth and their parents reported these experiences in a highly consistent fashion. PTSD and depression in refugee youth appear to be different conditions following different pathways during adolescent development.