I’ve been distracted all morning by reading the horrifying reports about today’s earthquake in Japan. Many of you have probably been doing the same, and my heart goes out to those who have family and friends in the affected region.
Our senior web editor, Kat Tancock, has family in Christchurch, New Zealand, a city that was devastated by an earthquake in February. Today, as we discussed the tragic images we’ve seen of Japan, we wondered: what are the long-term psychological affects of living through an earthquake?
Reporting on the Christchurch earthquake, the Sydney Morning Herald writes that almost 10 percent of those who survive a traumatic event like an earthquake will suffer "psychological aftershocks" in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Mental Health Canada describes PTSD as an anxiety disorder resulting from living through a terrifying event. Symptoms include trouble sleeping, flashbacks of the event, depression, anxiety, anger and substance abuse. Treatment comes in the form of therapy and medication.
According to the expert quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, it could take years for some earthquake survivors to recover from PTSD’and no doubt it’s even longer for those living in developing countries that have endured a natural disaster, like Haiti and Pakistan.
While it’s obvious that earthquake survivors need medical supplies, food and housing immediately, it’s easy to forget that many still nurse long-term psychological wounds long after the world media have turned their focus to other events.
To help with the urgent needs of Japanese survivors, the Canadian Red Cross is now accepting donations.
More ways to help earthquake survivors:
‘ Donate to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
‘ Contribute to Care Canada’s post-earthquake efforts in Haiti
‘ Give to Unicef Canada’s Pakistan Flood Relief fund