Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Due to Natural Disasters.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (referred to as PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that may develop following any catastrophic life experience. There are a variety of factors that may determine an individuals specific predisposition for developing PTSD but for this article we shall examine the factors surrounding encountering this disorder as a result of a natural disaster, some symptoms of PTSD and the range of people this can actually effect.

PTSD became much more widely known following the US war in Vietnam, due to soldiers returning from the conflict zone developed many disturbing psychological symptoms and loss of functioning. However, even now in a world so in tune to psychological disorders, when faced with a disaster zone so much has to be considered and acted upon, such as the safety of victims, the delivery of aid and the possible re-homing of thousands or even million of people, the psychological effects of disasters are rarely seen as a priority. As a result of this, countless individuals around the world face PTSD alone, when in reality it is a condition that can vastly improve with counselling and therapy.

Classifying a traumatic event experienced as an individual as a disaster may prove difficult, and the distinction between what is experienced by an individual and the surrounding population may consider greatly. Therefore for the purpose of this article we will assume a disaster is an event, which is severely damaging and disruptive for a significant number of individuals.

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An important fact to remember is disasters do not just effect those directly involved, this means there is, in reality, a substantially wide range of people that may be considered ‘victims’ of a disaster. This can include, but may not be limited to; those who nearly escape death, those injured and those who witness a traumatic event. © www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/. However with ever increasing media and news footage of natural disasters family and friends of those deceased or affected by the event may also go on to suffer PTSD as a direct result.

PTSD symptoms vary significantly from person to person, both in the severity of the condition and also the symptoms that a sufferer may experience. It is important to note that PTSD does not necessarily develop in the immediate aftermath of an event, instead it can take week, months or even years for a sufferer to begin to experience symptoms. PTSD symptoms can include one or more of the following:

– nightmares

– flashbacks

– impaired functioning

– memory issues

– parenting or marital difficulties

Unfortunately this list is not exhaustive, PTSD symptoms vary a great deal but often improve significantly with help, with psychotherapy cited the most efficient way of dealing with PTSD in the aftermath of a traumatic event.

Natural disasters are feeling more common than ever, with the recent horrific events in Pakistan due to monsoon flooding, the Haiti earthquake and Huricane Katrina to name a few. The media and television now plays such a significant role in these and is having a direct effect in causing and enhancing the suffering of PTSD. © www.harleytherapy.co.uk. In fact in relation to Hurricane Katrina researchers found the more television footage watched by victims had a string correlation with developing PTSD. So what about Pakistan and the recent events there? The Pakistan government estimates that 200 people have now been affected by the severe floods, and the UN today has warned that 4.6 million victims are still without shelter. This is a population of victims who cannot watch the tragedy unfold around them via the media, instead this is left to the family and friends of victims directly affected around the world. Unfortunately these people could be the next sufferers of PTSD, an unfriendly reminder that with the constant flow of information available at the click of a mouse, a flick or a report or an article in the morning news that people have unlimited access to disturbing images and stories that are ever increased if a loved one may be affected.

So as we can see PTSD does not just effect those caught directly within a traumatic event, but may be experienced by people worldwide. However PTSD does not have to be a condition that has to be lived with, instead access to help can ensure that this disorder can be effectively controlled so an active life can continue to be led.

Therapists at Harley Therapy offer assessment and treatment for PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Counselling London.

Charlotte Bassam-Bowles

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