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New study links post-traumatic stress disorder to racism

RACISM PROTEST: Societal impacts from racism are wide (PA)

A NEW study has found that racism can cause a person to suffer from post-traumatic stress.

The study, carried out in the US by Dr Monnica Williams, a mental health clinical psychologist and the associate director of the University of Louisville's Center for Mental Health Disparities, proposes for changes to be made in the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

DSM-5, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association is used by psychiatric drug regulation agencies and clinicians around the world to provide a standardised criterion for the classification of mental disorders.

Previously, according to the research: “racism was recognised as a trauma that could potentially cause PTSD, but only in relation to a specific event.”

However, under the new definition, “the requirements for fear, helplessness, and horror have been removed, making room for the more lasting effects of subtle racism to be considered in the discussion of race-based traumas.”

Williams told the Huffington Post: "The problem is these things affect our self-esteem, because when we meet a micro-aggression or some sort of slight or assault, we don't know if it's because of our colour, because the attacks are not blatant anymore, or if it's because of something about us."

At present, African-Americans experience PTSD at a prevalence rate of 9.1 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent in non-Hispanic Whites.

Researchers found that African-Americans who reported experiences of racial discrimination had higher odds of suffering from generalised anxiety disorder.

It states that “one major factor in understanding PTSD in ethnoracial minorities is the impact of racism on emotional and psychological well-being.”

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