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.

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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:
from the past week

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