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It was cold and dark in the psychiatrist's office in downtown Damascus.Family networks have also collapsed under the pressure of war. Like other Arab countries, Syria had a long tradition of community involvement in the individual's wellbeing. Psychiatrists find themselves overwhelmed by cases of war-related trauma.Even the more fortunate patients who live at home in relatively safe central Damascus, with access to the few remaining psychiatrists, find the stress of war can precipitate a crisis.The family has to arrange for Sawsan's prescribed drug to be delivered from neighboring Lebanon as it is now almost impossible to get in Syria.International aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in October that 15 percent of Syrian refugees in an Iraqi refugee camp displayed symptoms of a severe mental disorder, double the number a year before.Civilians living in rebel-held areas of Syria have to endure air raids, and the army prevents doctors and medicine from getting in.But Damascus-based doctors do provide medical care to civilians displaced from rebel areas and living in government shelters, which these days are usually school buildings.An estimated 4 million children in Syria are in need of such programs, she says, but many are beyond reach due to heavy fighting or military sieges.
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