Mental Health Outcomes of Mexico’s Drug War in Ciudad Juárez: A Pilot Study Among University Students

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During the most intense period of an armed conflict related to the drug trade in Mexico, 40 students attending the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico were surveyed in this pilot study for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. The percentage of participants who scored positively for symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety were 32.5%, 35%, and 37.5%, respectively. Criteria for posttraumatic stress were analyzed separately. The most frequently reported traumatic events included extortion or robbery, confinement to home, injury to loved one, being in an armed conflict, witnessing a killing or dead body, and being beaten. Trauma events positively associated with depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms included robbery or extortion, armed conflict situation, exposure to frequent arms fire, and witnessing a killing or dead body.


O'Connor, K., Vizcaino, M., & Benavides, N. A. (2014). Mental health outcomes of Mexico’s drug war in Ciudad Juárez: A pilot study among university students. Traumatology: An International Journal, 20(1), 24-31.