What is the resignation syndrome that affects children. What signs to look out for
Called abandonment syndrome (in Italian, resignation syndrome) and affects children aged 8 to 18 years, often in the state of asylum seekers, especially in Sweden, which forcibly returned with the pandemic.
We do not start talking anymore, stop eating, refuse to go out, and then we never get out of bed and fall asleep and fall into a catatonic state.
Originally reported in Sweden about ten years ago, the resignation syndrome showed a set of alarming symptoms in subjects from 8 to 18 years (then it was also found from 6 years and up). They all share the same characteristic: refugee status. On the run from their country of origin, Syria or the former Yugoslavia, these children had arrived in Sweden and did not feel welcomed by the new society. The constant recovery and the difficulties in obtaining a residence permit kept the families on constant alert and turned their frightened children into subjects without any reaction. Himself up, actually.
But the phenomenon is not only Swedish, several cases in the world, have concerned the pandemic period, but also children who are victims of family abuse.
The resignation syndromeis a psychological state that leads to a state of impaired consciousness. The minors diagnosed with the resignation syndrome were primarily witnesses of horrific violence in their countries of origin. Once migrated, they continue to bring worries and fears with them due to the abandonment of their land, the stay in detention centers, the abandonment of important associates, the frequent rejection of the asylum application or the revocation of their residence permit. families.
The constant doubt and uncertainty about what one’s future will be causes the child to develop a lack of security, anxiety, confusion and resignation. The “attraction” of the world therefore presents itself unconsciously as the only way out of an unsustainable psychological situation.
In addition, this condition in these children’s families may be exacerbated by a family history of mental illness and lack of support from social and mental health services.
Although it had already been described in 1958 by the Swedish child and adolescent psychiatrist Anna-Lisa Annell as a very rare disease, which appeared mainly after severe mental trauma, this condition has not been recognized by pediatricians and child psychiatrists for many years. In fact, it was not until 1 January 2014 that the Swedish National Council for Health and Wellness identified this syndrome with an official diagnosis and included it in the Swedish ICD-10 classification.
The special thing about the resignation syndrome is that all cases that have occurred so far have only been registered in Sweden. Very few children and adolescents with the same or similar symptoms have been reported from other European countries. Recently, however, there have been reports of a number of refugee and asylum-seeking children with a syndrome very similar to the resignation syndrome from Australia: They had been on the island of Nauru for several years and detention centers have been set up for refugees on the island. time, it is possible to find cases of manifestations similar to the resignation syndrome in children and young adults deported to Nazi concentration camps.
How it is expressed
Resignation syndrome in children and adolescents begins with anxiety symptoms and depression, especially apathy and lethargy. Gradually these children and young people they begin to seem irritable, to gradually distance themselves from the world and withdraw into themselves, reluctant to engage in routine activities such as school and play.
They resist others’ attempts at support and encouragement, stop walking, talking, eating, and become weak, incontinent, and unable to respond to stimuli, including painful ones. Up to a state of deep numbness and unconsciousness that can last for months or years.
Based on the reactivity to stimuli, the symptoms of resignation syndrome can be divided into two categories:
- “Grade 1” symptoms: when babies show some response, when they are spoken to, they walk with support, respond to commands, and feed with spoons;
- “Grade 2” symptoms: when infants do not respond to touch, sound, pain or heat and tube feeding is required. Tachycardia, high temperature, heavy sweating and hyperventilation may also be present.
After a period of time that can vary from a few months to several years, depending on the individual variability, the syndrome recedes, and consequently all cognitive and motor functions are slowly restored, without dysfunctions of any kind.
How to heal
Treatment of resignation syndrome is based on the acute phase keep the subject alive in a state of torpor; for example, nutritional support is ensured through a nasogastric tube, intravenous rehydration, and control of bodily functions. However, from the beginning, the treatment is also psychological.
These children and their families should be offered the opportunity through individual psychotherapy the interventions with parents (parent training), to deepen the negative emotions associated with the traumatic experience and to fit permanently into the new environment, to be able to have adequate cultural and socio-economic opportunities. That social support to be delivered not only to the person affected by the resignation syndrome but also to his family.