Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Japanese Town: Half the survivors of mega-earthquake, tsunami, have PTSD symptoms

Date:
March 6, 2014
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
A new study shows that more than half the survivors in one Japanese town exhibited 'clinically concerning' symptoms of PTSD following the country's mega-earthquake and tsunami. Two-thirds of survivors also reported symptoms of depression. Having work to do has proven important in increasing resilience.

Though just two of Hirono's 5,418 residents lost their lives in Japan's mega-earthquake and tsunami, a new study shows that the survivors are struggling to keep their sanity.

Related Articles


One year after the quake, Brigham Young University professor Niwako Yamawaki and scholars from Saga University evaluated the mental health of 241 Hirono citizens. More than half of the people evaluated experienced "clinically concerning" symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Two-thirds of the sample reported symptoms of depression.

Those rates exceed levels seen in the aftermath of other natural disasters, but what happened in Japan wasn't just a natural disaster. Leaked radiation from nuclear power plants forced residents of Hirono to relocate to temporary housing far from home.

"This was the world's fourth-biggest recorded earthquake, and also the tsunami and nuclear plant and losing their homes -- boom boom boom boom within such a short time," said Yamawaki, a psychology professor at BYU. "The prevalence one year after is still much higher than other studies of disasters that we found even though some time had passed."

Yamawaki got the idea for this study while shoveling mud from a damaged Japanese home one month after the tsunami flooded coastal towns. She had just arrived for a previously scheduled fellowship at Saga University. During her off-time, she traveled to the affected area and volunteered in the clean-up effort. One seemingly stoic homeowner broke down in tears when Yamawaki and her husband thanked her for the chance to help.

"She said 'This is the first time I have cried since the disaster happened,'" Yamawaki said. "She just said 'Thank you. Thank you for letting me cry.'"

Back at Saga University, Yamawaki collaborated with Hiroko Kukihara to conduct a study on the mental health and resilience of survivors. Their report appears in the journal Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

Participants in the study lived in temporary housing provided by the Japanese government when Hirono was evacuated. With an average age of 58, the people are noticeably older than the populations of normal Japanese towns. Yamawaki suspects that young people were more likely to permanently relocate elsewhere in Japan following the disaster.

The researchers didn't just measure the rates of mental illness; they also performed a statistical analysis to learn what fostered resilience among the survivors. Eating right, exercising regularly and going to work all promoted resilience and served as a buffer against mental illness.

"Having something to do after a disaster really gives a sense of normalcy, even volunteer work," Yamawaki said.

As the researchers got to know survivors, they heard from so many that they missed seeing their former neighbors. The mass relocation outside the radiation zone broke up many neighborhood ties.

"Japanese are very collectivistic people and their identity is so intertwined with neighbors," Yamawaki said. "Breaking up the community has so much impact on them."

While it's hard to fathom the scope of the devastation in the coastal region of Fukushima, most survivors believe something like this will happen again. If so, this new study provides a blueprint for how to help them put their lives back together again.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hiroko Kukihara, Niwako Yamawaki, Kumi Uchiyama, Shoichi Arai, Etsuo Horikawa. Trauma, depression, and resilience of earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster survivors of Hirono, Fukushima, Japan. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/pcn.12159

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "Japanese Town: Half the survivors of mega-earthquake, tsunami, have PTSD symptoms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306095526.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2014, March 6). Japanese Town: Half the survivors of mega-earthquake, tsunami, have PTSD symptoms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306095526.htm
Brigham Young University. "Japanese Town: Half the survivors of mega-earthquake, tsunami, have PTSD symptoms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140306095526.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins