Apathetic children cases grow

The number of apathetic children is growing in Sweden, and the phenomenon could be connected to the increasing refugee flow, Swedish Radio News reports.

There are no official figures for the entire country, but the Sachs' Children and Youth hospital in Stockholm received 21 new patients last year, compared to 12 to 15 in previous years. Data published by the Swedish Migration Agency also confirm a rise in apathetic refugee kids.

Ihsan stopped speaking, his mother says.

"He didn't watch TV, did absolutely nothing, and finally stopped eating too," she says.

Ihsan was a normal 8-year-old boy before the first symptoms began. He went to school and played with his friends. Now he just lies in bed with his eyes closed day and night.

"We've seen an increase in recent years, but 2014 was even more dramatic," says Mikael Billing, chief psychiatrist for refugee children at Sachs'.

Billing believes that the rise is connected with the growing refugee figures, but also to the fact that many of them live in hiding.

"We are in touch with more families that live in hiding. Their kids could have experienced traumatic events and then lived in a precarious situation for years. This creates a risk for them to become apathetic," he says.

It is believed that the syndrome has to do with exposure to extreme stress. Many children become apathetic when their asylum applications are turned down and start fearing that they may have to return to their countries.