Home Mental Health & Well-Being Tips on How to Manage Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After an Earthquake

Tips on How to Manage Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After an Earthquake

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Earthquakes are destructive, but they often leave behind more than just physical damage. A lesser-known, but equally devastating consequence, is the psychological toll they can have on those affected – specifically, the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric condition characterised by severe emotional reactions to a traumatic event, in this case, an earthquake.

Understanding earthquake-induced PTSD

Experiencing a natural disaster such as an earthquake is unquestionably traumatic. The suddenness, unpredictability, and magnitude of the event can leave a lasting impact on survivors. They often find themselves replaying the horrifying experience in their minds, leading to intense distress and impairment in their daily functioning. This symptom is one of many associated with PTSD.

In addition to intrusive memories, PTSD symptoms include avoidance of anything associated with the traumatic event, changes in emotional reactions, and alterations in cognitive and mood elements, such as persistent negative emotional states or feelings of detachment from others. An individual is diagnosed with PTSD if these symptoms persist for over a month and significantly impair daily life.

The prevalence of earthquake-induced PTSD

The rate of PTSD after an earthquake varies due to a multitude of factors, including the severity of the disaster, the degree of exposure, and the individual’s personal resilience. However, research has shown that in severe earthquakes, up to 40% of direct survivors can show signs of PTSD. This prevalence signifies a critical need for recognition, understanding, and management of this condition.

Recognising PTSD

Early recognition of PTSD is vital to prevent the symptoms from escalating. One of the primary difficulties in recognising PTSD lies in its symptom overlap with other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety disorders. But a distinguishing feature of PTSD is the persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event.

People with PTSD may have recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories or dreams related to the event. They may also exhibit emotional distress or physiological reactions to reminders of the trauma. If you or a loved one have experienced an earthquake and these symptoms persist beyond a few weeks, it is crucial to reach out to a mental health professional.

Managing PTSD after an earthquake

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PTSD, but with the right help, individuals can regain control of their lives. Evidence-based treatments include trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), and medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Apart from clinical treatment, self-care practices also play a vital role in recovery. Regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, and practicing mindfulness can significantly contribute to managing PTSD symptoms.

Moreover, social support is critical in PTSD recovery. Having a strong network of friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional comfort, making the recovery process less daunting. It’s important to remember that it’s OK to ask for help and lean on others during this challenging time.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd