What is it about?

On the 4th of August 2020, 2,700 kg of ammonium nitrate exploded at the port of Beirut, resulting in devastating damages to the capital of Lebanon and its surrounding areas, leading to the death of more than 220 individuals, 6000 injuries, and left over 300,000 people homeless. This paper had two objectives: first, to examine the mental health consequences following the explosion, specifically the prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and stress, among a sample of 521 Lebanese people using an online survey. PTSD is a disorder that could develop following a shocking, traumatic, or dangerous event. It is characterized by the experience of intense and intrusive thoughts and emotions reminding us of the trauma. Secondly, this study examined potential predictors of PTSD, as well as protective factors against its development, specifically mentalizing and resilience, both seen as protective factors against the development of mental health difficulties. Mentalizing is defined as one’s capacity to understand one’s own and other people’s intentions and behaviors focusing on underlying mental states and emotions. As for resilience, it refers to the ability to overcome adversity and trauma, while maintaining balance in the face of challenging life events. Our results showed that, within our sample, 52% of participants had depression, 45% had anxiety, and 37% showed severe stress. As for PTSD, over 43% of the sample presented clinically significant levels of PTSD. Moreover, our results showed that resilience and mentalizing correlated with PTSD, with higher scores in resilience predicting lower scores in PTSD, and lower scores in mentalizing predicting higher levels of PTSD.

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Why is it important?

This paper is one of the few studies published at the wake of the Beirut Port Explosion exploring the psychological consequences following one of the biggest man-made disasters. Collecting such valuable data and sharing it after such an event is important on many levels. It helps us understand the different implications of such traumatic experience on mental health. It also allows us to dissect PTSD itself and differentiate between the different implications of various traumatic situations such as man-made traumas, intentional or accidental and natural traumas.


As traumatic as it has been, this event should not have passed without being researched. In the hopes that it never occurs again, intentionally or not, in peace or in war, anywhere in the world, traumatic events have major consequences on our health in general and our mental health and should be worked on as soon as possible. We hope that this paper raises more awareness about the negative effects of PTSD on mental health.

Rudy Abi-Habib
Lebanese American University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Prevalence and correlates of mental health difficulties following the beirut port explosion: The roles of mentalizing and resilience., Psychological Trauma Theory Research Practice and Policy, July 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/tra0001328.
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