The Emotional Effects of Natural Disasters

Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when one has experienced a traumatic event, in this case the traumatic event is a natural disaster, the victims may suffer through the loss of property, the loss of loved ones, among many other possibilities, causing them to have negative effects on their mental stability following the event (American Psychiatry Association). The symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts, avoiding reminders, negative thoughts and feelings, and arousal and reactive symptoms (American Psychiatry Association). Due to the stress of a flood in China, many victims suffered from fear, sleep problems, and depression; the fear, depression, and sleep problems were closely related, each one having an effect on each other, cycling back and forth (Zhen, Rui, et al, 605). The recovery process of PTSD for individuals can vary based on the event that occurred and previous illnesses but it is expected that most adults will overcome the effects of PTSD after one disaster (Johannesson, Kerstin, et al, 22).

Compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters (Trentini et al., 7). Children experience higher levels of depression and anxiety after a disaster while many of them also receive a full or partial diagnosis of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) (Dass-Brailsford, 4). Other common effects on children include trouble concentrating, becoming withdrawn, regressing, physical pain, and destructive activities (Simmons & Douglas, 1). The experience can leave lasting effects on young children such as deprivation of attachment, emotional security, and self-regulation skills (Masten & Osofsky, 6). After trauma female children tend to have higher rates of anxiety symptoms while male children tend to show higher rates of behavioral symptoms (Trentini et al., 7). In the case of the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, the children exposed had worse reactions to adaption after the tsunami as well as more exposure to other adversities such as war and family violence, relating back to the idea of environmental racism (Masten & Osofsky, 4).

Many different factors after the natural disaster may control how children able to heal (Terranova, et al., 546). Their characteristics before the disaster, parental functionality (depression and hostility), emotional reactivity, and help following the occurrence of the disaster (Terranova, et al., 545). The emotional affects lasting after a natural disaster may disrupt one’s life even further. It can impair one’s ability to exist as they did prior to the disaster. Not only did they face the negative effects of the natural disasters (harm to them, harm to their families, loss of property and belongings, etc.) they also must deal with the mental toll of this disaster. Quality of life is diminished as well as functional impairment such as missing school because of elevated symptoms, but attending school is believed to be important to recovery for children (Berry, et al., 1; Trentini, et al., 8). Multiple studies have found that some children who were affected by natural disasters recover partially to completely the natural disaster 2 to 5 years after the initial event (Masten & Osofsky, 4). The promptness of treating children is important to help them recover after the event, early treatment prevents worsening of symptoms and helps to reduce them throughout time (Trentini et al., 8).

Works Cited