The Hidden Toll: Exploring How Do Natural Disasters Affect Mental Health?

How Do Natural Disasters Affect Mental Health
  • Research shows that natural disasters affect mental health in the long run.
  • People affected by natural calamities (like the Turkey-Syria earthquake) tend to develop mental health disorders like PTSD and depression.

Natural Disasters And Mental Health

A natural disaster is popularly defined as a sudden ecological phenomenon or a large-scale adverse event resulting from the Earth’s natural processes. It is often associated with death, trauma, and the destruction of property.

In recent times, natural disasters like earthquakes, forest fires, flash floods, and tornadoes have increased in frequency, thanks to factors like global warming and the climate change crisis.

Many places in the world, like the Philippines, Australia, Puerto Rico, Japan, and the Turkish-Syrian border, have suffered a magnitude of damage to life and property and are in the process of experiencing a mental health crisis.

What Mental Health Problems Can Occur After A Disaster?

Research over the years has affirmed the long-term emotional effects of disasters. People who have gone through a negative life experience like a natural calamity are prone to developing mental health conditions like:

  • Stress disorders like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Trauma
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Personality disorders
  • Reduced life satisfaction
  • Disillusionment with life and extreme negativity
  • Suicidality

Why Do Natural Disasters Affect Mental Health?

The negative relationship between natural disasters and mental health can be attributed to a number of factors like:

  • Survivor’s guilt
  • Grief
  • Immense financial losses
  • Displacement
  • Fear of losing control over one’s life
  • Negative conditions like poverty, food shortage, homelessness, etc.

Natural disasters can also aggravate existing mental health conditions, especially in children and the elderly. For example, the Turkey-Syria earthquake greatly affected the refugees in the Turkish-Syria borderlands, who already had high scores of displacement trauma and PTSD.

Experts suggest that the earthquake enhanced a crisis of self-hood and identity marked by trauma, panic disorders, and nightmare disorder.

Inadequate Mental Coping Strategies In Disaster

Navigating mental health disasters is a costly affair. Management of such disasters often prioritizes physical health and security over mental health struggles.

Because of this, there is a lack of psychiatric infrastructure in areas hit by natural disasters, even though the mental health consequences of natural calamities are unmitigated and debilitating in the long run.

Untreated mental health disorders can hamper a person’s social relationships and prospects in life. Therefore, a timely diagnosis of such symptoms is necessary.

For many, even a brief validation of negative emotions through therapy can go a long way in offering a sense of justification, thereby equipping them well to handle their overwhelming distress better.

Dr. Rania Awaad, a clinical psychiatrist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, elaborating on the Turkish-Syrian survivors’ mental health post-earthquake, said: “What happens is the trauma will live right under the surface. And so a person goes on in their life thinking ‘ok I’m over this’ … and then later on in life, something will trigger their memory and it will cause trauma. This is why we say the longer you take to treat something, the longer it’s going to take to treat it.

Addressing The Mental Health Consequences Of Disasters

Mental health conditions triggered by natural disasters can be addressed with evidence-based mental health interventions customized according to the cultural context of the calamity and the needs of the community affected.

These should serve to enhance a sense of safety and optimism, as well as serve to promote social connectedness for those who are impacted.

Know More About –

  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  2. Major Depressive Disorder
  3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  1. What Surviving Complex PTSD Can Help You Learn About Life
  2. How to Relieve the Burden of Survivor’s Guilt
  3. Why Trauma Survivors Don’t Always Need To Forgive
Up Next

Amanda Bynes Placed on Psychiatric Hold After An Ended Conservatorship

Amanda Bynes Placed on Psychiatric Hold

Recently, actor Amanda Bynes was placed on psychiatric hold for roaming naked and alone in public.

Her hospitalization has raised questions about the physical and mental well-being of child stars in Hollywood.

In the late 1990s and the 2000s, American actress Amanda Bynes was the ultimate Hollywood “It Girl”, having starred in a string of successful romantic comedies like “What a Girl Wants” (2003), “She's the Man” (2006), “Hairspray” (2007), and “Easy A” (2010).

However, in the 2010s, she decided to take a hiatus from her promising acting career. Soon after, her troubles started.

Amanda Bynes Mental Hea

Up Next

Live-In Relationships And Mental Health —The Debate And Its Implications

Live-In Relationships And Mental Health

There is much debate around live-in relationships and mental health.

Experts contend that this link can be positive or negative, depending on the cohabiting couples’ perspectives and circumstances.

What Are Live-in Relationships?

A live-in relationship or cohabitation is a type of intimate relationship where two people choose to live together as partners without getting married. The partners are often involved in a romantic or sexually intimate relationship on a long-term or permanent basis.

Live-in relationships are becoming increasingly prevalent in

Up Next

Do Modern Femininity Pose Challenges?

Do Modern Femininity Pose Challenges

Modern femininity espouses a break from the traditional gender roles assigned to women.

However, research claims that the modern feminine lifestyle comes with its own challenges.

What Is Modern Femininity?

Modern femininity is a term that refers to the contemporary concept of what it means to be a woman in today's society. It is characterized by a set of values and behaviors that are often considered to be different from the traditional gender-defined roles that women have played in the past.

Up Next

Is Neurodiversity In The Workplace A Professional Advantage?

Neurodiversity In The Workplace

Neurodiversity generally refers to diversity in the human brain and cognition.

Research shows that neurodiversity in the workplace yields a better work culture and employee turnover.

What Is Neurodiversity?

Neurodiversity refers to the recognition that people have natural variations in the way their brains work. This may include differences in sensory processing, learning styles, and social interaction.

What Is Neurodiversity In The Workplace?

Up Next

Away With Action Hero Stereotypes: Bruce Willis Has Dementia

Bruce Willis Has Dementia

In February 2023, it was reported that Hollywood actor Bruce Willis has dementia.

The news of Willis’ illness reignited the conversation around dementia awareness.

In 2020, reports accused Bruce Willis of “Die Hard” fame of unprofessionalism on film sets. The accounts stated that he appeared confused and had to be fed lines through an earpiece.

In some cases, the directors and screenwriters reduced his roles and abbreviated his dialogues. His films were also panned hard by critics and he stood the risk of being canceled by Hollywood.

However, in early 2022, Willis's family announced his diagnosis with

Why Amanda Bynes Was Placed on Psychiatric Hold? The Unseen Struggle: Princess Diana’s Battle With An Eating Disorder Iconic Movie Actresses and Histrionic Personality Disorder: Exploring Complexity Hikikomori: Understanding The Japanese Culture-Bound Syndrome Is Brendan Fraser’s Oscar-Win Also A Mental Health Success Story? Are Chefs at Higher Risk of Mental Illness and Suicide? Can A Good Walk In The Woods Clear Your Head? What Is The Link Between Criminality And Sexual Fetishism? Cooking Therapy: Nourishing Our Minds And Souls At The Same Time? Social Media Narcissism And What It Means For Young Adults How Space Travel Induces Depression, Anxiety, And Psychosis In Astronauts? How Do Stock Markets Impact The Mental Health Of Financers?