PTSD is a serious mental health condition more commonly associated with sources of emotional and physical trauma such as combat and sexual assault. However, it is also a reaction that can occur after someone survives or witnesses a natural disaster. Natural disasters are often unpredictable and can cause widespread destruction, leaving survivors feeling helpless and alone. These feelings can lead to the development of PTSD, which, in turn, can lead to addiction and other mental and physical health problems.
If you’re suffering from an addiction as a result of PTSD, there are treatment options available to help you cope with your symptoms and begin the healing process. To learn about the treatment options available at our PTSD treatment program, please contact Recovery Ranch TN today at 1.844.876.7680.
Natural Disasters and PTSD
In combination with ongoing stress exposure, anger helps explain the damaging mental health impacts of living through a natural disaster, a team of Australian researchers reports in a recent study. Exposure to a life-threatening natural disaster is a known potential source of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A study published in January 2015 in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry involved researchers from several Australian institutions. These experts explored the impact that anger and continued exposure to other sources of stress have on natural disaster survivors.
The term natural disaster applies broadly to severe weather- and environment-related events such as:
All such events involve serious risks to the lives and well-being of exposed individuals and risks to the cohesion of communities and social support networks. People exposed to a natural disaster commonly experience adverse, short-term changes in their mental and physical health. Most affected individuals gradually recover their sense of well-being and don’t suffer long-lasting mental health consequences. However, a significant number of exposed people will eventually develop diagnosable symptoms of PTSD.
How Common Is PTSD After a Natural Disaster?
The National Center for PTSD notes that several known factors can increase the odds that any given person will develop post-traumatic stress disorder after exposure to a natural disaster. These factors include:
- Being severely impacted by the physical consequences of a natural disaster
- Being middle-aged
- Having no prior experience coping with a natural disaster
- Having a poorly developed ability to handle stress
- Experiencing significant mental or physical problems at the time a natural disaster occurs
- Lacking the personal and social support networks that commonly help ease the impact of trauma exposure
- Losing a loved one or friend during a natural disaster
- Losing your home or other important property during a natural disaster
Trauma Exposure and Anger
At its core, anger is a survival-based response that prepares the body for action and provides a warning to others who pose a threat. Unfortunately, when this response is triggered frequently, it can harm rather than help and contribute to a substantial downturn in health and well-being. Often, people who live through highly traumatic events or situations experience an angry reaction to their circumstances. If such a reaction is not eventually brought under control, it can potentially promote the onset of PTSD. In addition, unpredictable outbursts of anger may constitute an active symptom of the disorder in affected individuals.
Anger, Ongoing Stress, and Natural Disasters
In the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, researchers from Australian institutions worked together. These researchers included the University of Melbourne, the Swinburne University of Technology, and Flinders University. It used information collected from 1,017 survivors of a 2009 outbreak of severe brush fires to help determine the impact of anger, ongoing stress, and other factors. It also helps to determine the odds that exposure to a natural disaster will lead to damaging mental health outcomes.
Specific outcomes probed during the project included:
- Alcohol use disorder
The researchers concluded that, regardless of any intervening influences, exposure to a serious natural disaster is directly related to the chances that any given person will develop PTSD or some other mental health issues.
They also concluded that experiencing anger in the aftermath of a natural disaster contributes significantly to the baseline risks for mental health problems. The same finding applies to the impact of exposure to additional major life stresses, such as divorce, serious illness, or the loss of a job in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Women have substantially higher chances than men of developing post-natural disaster mental health issues without the intervening effects of anger or major life stress.
What Do the Findings Mean?
The study’s authors believe that their findings highlight the potential ill effects of experiencing anger in the aftermath of a natural disaster. They also believe that public health officials can offset much of the identified risk by proactively reaching out to natural disaster survivors. In addition, the researchers believe that assistance in coping with ongoing major life stresses can substantially ease natural disaster survivors’ mental health burdens.
Begin Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Recovery Ranch TN Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with PTSD, natural disaster exposure, and a substance use disorder, get in touch with Recovery Ranch TN today. Our admissions counselors are standing by to answer any questions you may have about treatment and help you take the first steps on your road to recovery. Call 1.844.876.7680 to learn more today.