Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tropical depression: Hurricane linked to long-term mental distress

10.05.2006


Florida State University sociologists in Tallahassee, Fla. have found that some South Floridians who survived 1992’s Hurricane Andrew suffered mental health problems many years later, a finding that has led the researchers to predict even more dire consequences for those who lived through last year’s devastating Hurricane Katrina.



The researchers, sociology doctoral student and lead author David Russell and professors John Taylor and Donald Lloyd, presented their findings at the 2006 annual meeting of the Southern Sociological Society held recently in New Orleans. Although the short-term mental health consequences of Hurricane Andrew have been documented, this study of adolescents is the first to show that it had long-term effects on mental health.

"We found that people who experienced prior stressful events and who had pre-existing symptoms of psychological distress were more adversely affected by exposure to hurricane-related stressful events," Russell said.


"Based on our findings, we believe intervention efforts should include assessments of the prior experiences and psychological well-being of disaster victims. Doing so will aid response workers in identifying those most at risk for developing post-disaster psychological problems."

The findings suggest that the mental health consequences of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, will be even greater. Although the storms were similar in strength, the human and economic costs associated with Katrina far exceeded those of Andrew. Deaths associated with Katrina were more than 50 times greater than those attributed to Andrew, and economic analysts predict that the total economic cost of Katrina will surpass $200 billion, which is more than five times the cost of Andrew.

"We believe that victims of Hurricane Katrina will be at an increased risk for mental health problems for many years to come," Russell said. "The extent of damage was widespread and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes and families. Those aspects of the storm mean that many people were exposed to some degree of adversity, and that puts them at greater risk for mental health problems both immediately and over a long period of time."

Delays in rescuing people who were stranded by the flooding in New Orleans compounded the anguish of the Katrina survivors, the researchers noted.

"The slow response by governmental agencies to rescue the victims produced feelings of hopelessness, isolation and anger," Russell said. "In the meantime, exposure to human carnage has placed victims and recovery workers at great risk for a wide array of psychological problems."

Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, hit South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992. The hurricane caused 25 deaths in Miami-Dade County alone. At the time, the damage inflicted by Andrew was unprecedented in U.S. history with total economic losses estimated at $35 billion. More than 250,000 people were left homeless, and the community’s recovery from the storm took years.

The researchers studied data from 975 Miami-Dade County adolescents who lived through Hurricane Andrew to assess psychological distress before, during and five to seven years after the storm. They measured disruption by counting the occurrence of five events: damage to one’s home; being away from home for longer than a week; injury to a family member; having one or both parents lose a job; and having to stay in a shelter.

Not only did Andrew cause emotional distress immediately following the hurricane, the researchers found that it indirectly affected mental health years later. The storm of emotion following the hurricane increased risk for certain stressful life events, such as failing a grade in school, being sent away from home or having to live away from parents.

Russell said the findings likely underestimated the true psychological impact of Hurricane Andrew because those most adversely affected by the hurricane may have relocated from the Miami-Dade area, and thus would have been left out of the follow-up surveys. In addition, the study measured some but not all of the common experiences associated with the disaster, such as perceptions of safety during the storm, loss of personal belongings and living without electricity and adequate food or water after the storm.

David Russell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance
25.09.2017 | Institut Pasteur

nachricht MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer
25.09.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The fastest light-driven current source

Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.

Graphene is up to the job

Im Focus: LaserTAB: More efficient and precise contacts thanks to human-robot collaboration

At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.

Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nerves control the body’s bacterial community

26.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Four elements make 2-D optical platform

26.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Goodbye, login. Hello, heart scan

26.09.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>