Post traumatic stress disorder
“Traumatic stress refers to the emotional, cognitive, behavioural and physiological experiences of individuals who are exposed to, or who witness, events that overwhelm their coping and problem solving abilities. (Lemer & Shelton, 2001)
Natural disasters are considered traumatic events that have the high potential to lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As with any traumatic event, natural disasters can bring about high levels of stress, anxiety, sadness, and anger.
Unlike other traumatic events, natural disasters can also result in the tremendous destruction of property and financial loss, further affecting stress levels and disrupting coping efforts.
· Characteristics of the trauma
· Family history
· Severity or intensity
· psychiatric illness
· Post-event factors
· Availability and quality of social support
· Proximity to trauma
· Characteristics of the person
· Time to rebuild community/return to normal
· Prior trauma exposure
Risk Factors for PTSD
· Demographic Factors
· Gender -Females at increased risk
· Cognitive Ability – less effective coping skills, less appreciation of social issues
· Previous Trauma
· History of childhood physical or sexual abuse
· Exposure to previous trauma or disaster
· Individual Therapy
· Group Support (especially for Chronic PTSD)
· A good social support system may also help protect against PTSD.
· “Desensitization” – helps reduce symptoms by encouraging to remember the traumatic event and express feelings about it.
· Over time, memories of the event should become less frightening.
· Support groups, where people who have had similar experiences share their feelings, may also be helpful.
People with PTSD may also have problems with:
· Alcohol or other substance abuse
· Related medical conditions