Sat, 23 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Extreme weather is a cause of post-traumatic stress

Update : 27 Aug 2023, 01:09

Anyone who has experienced a flood or wildfire is at high risk of mental illness and post-traumatic stress. The more helpless people are made to feel, the worse it is for their mental health.

It is not unusual for soldiers who have fought in a war to suffer from post-traumatic stress after their missions. People who have experienced violence, who have been driven out of their homes or who have been forced to flee may also develop PTSD, as can emergency workers deployed to disaster zones to rescue the injured and recover the dead.

Such disasters might be caused by extreme weather events. People may have to fight for their survival, escape from floods or wildfires, and even witness others dying. If a person has been acutely and directly endangered by extreme weather conditions and has felt helpless in the face of disaster, they have an increased risk of developing PTSD.

"Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been studied very closely," says the psychiatrist Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg. Back in 2005, the current president of the German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (DGPPN) worked to administer psychological first aide in the US, after Hurricane Katrina caused terrible destruction across several states and claimed the lives of more than 1,800 people.

"Basically, not every person who is exposed to extreme weather events has mental health problems as a result," Meyer-Lindenberg says. "But there is a significant increase in mental health problems and illnesses after extreme weather events."

He explains that almost half of those affected by the devastation of Katrina developed PTSD. While people may also suffer from depression, anxiety and even addiction after an extreme event, PTSD is a direct, causal result of what they have experienced.

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