Being an immigrant or refugee can be one of the hardest things in your lifetime. Regardless of the reason you’ve left your hometown, you now have to get used to a whole new environment. Not only that, but being able to find work (and not necessarily even good work) and securing a good, stable future for your family can be extremely difficult if you’re an immigrant or refugee.
Children of immigrants might be able to adapt faster, depending on how young they are. But of course, that’s not always the case. In fact, the children of immigrants and refugees can be exposed to traumatic events that stay with them for a long time.
Like many who experience trauma in their lives, these children can develop disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. But there’s something else that these youth can experience called resignation syndrome.
What is resignation syndrome?
Resignation syndrome, also known as traumatic withdrawal syndrome, is a condition similar to a coma. The sufferer becomes catatonic, not talking or eating at all. Soon after, they go to sleep and don’t wake up for weeks, months, or even years.
When admitted to hospitals, the test results for these children indicate that they’re otherwise completely fine, physically. Those who completely reject food and drink while in this state have to be fed via feeding tubes inside their noses to continue getting nutrients while sleeping.
This isn’t a totally new phenomenon. The earliest reported case was back in the 1990s–over two decades ago.
Why does resignation syndrome happen?
Resignation syndrome seems to only affect children of immigrants and refugees in the vast majority of cases. Weirdly enough, specifically children in Sweden. And, as mentioned already, there doesn’t seem to be anything physically wrong with them for this to happen.
Medical professionals believe that, sadly, resignation syndrome is a result of trauma that these children have either experienced or witnessed. The condition is an emotional effect rather than a physical one. It’s believed that when these children feel hopeless because of their situation, or because of something that’s happened to them or a family member of theirs, they withdraw into themselves.
This withdrawal is so severe that, though it can start out as depression, the full effects of resignation syndrome see them not talking, eating, drinking, or waking up.
Let that sink in for a moment. The children of immigrants can experience such hopelessness that it results in a coma-like state.
Is there a cure for resignation syndrome?
It seems that there is a possibility for recovery for children suffering from resignation syndrome. Apparently, the main point to, at the very least, have their condition improve is the improvement of their situation.
There have been reports of children recovering after being granted permanent residency. Thus, this could mean that getting rid of that hopelessness these children feel is key to their recovery.
However, a study was conducted where the asylum process wasn’t included. Instead, thirteen children suffering from resignation syndrome were separated from their families and treated. The majority of them showed improvement in their condition, and one who wasn’t separated from their family was also improving. The study even suggests that granting residency would make their condition worse.
Either way, though, there’s at least some sort of hope in recovering from resignation syndrome. Still, this condition shouldn’t be taken lightly.
What’s the takeaway?
The fact that resignation syndrome most likely comes from a sense of hopelessness is very telling. Immigrants and refugees go through more than we know, and many times they have to do so with no help from anyone else.
It’s easy to feel alone and fearful of the unknown when you’re in an unfamiliar place and not everyone there takes kindly to you. The children of immigrants and refugees also suffer, as resignation syndrome has shown us.
If you want to help immigrants and refugees, take a look at places like Immigrant Justice, Amnesty, and World Relief. A few minutes of your help could mean a lifetime of change for someone in need of help!