Friday, January 14, 2011

Children's mental health after the hurricane

In 2004 Hurricane Charley hit Charlotte County in Southwest Florida killing 35 people. Researchers from the University of Miami have been researching post-traumatic stress (PTS) in children caught up in the disaster and have found that the effects can be longer-lasting than previously thought. The researchers studied 384 children in Years 2-4 assessing them nine and 21 months after the hurricane struck. Their study found that 35% had moderate to severe levels of PTS nine months after the hurricane and 29% were still reporting these levels of stress 21 months after the event. Symptoms ranged from recurring dreams about the hurricane to being tense, more distracted, feeling like nobody understood them, problems sleeping and feeling sad and fearful. Other difficulties - such as parents separating or an illness in the family - intensified the children's post-traumatic stress whereas social support from their peers was found to be very helpful.

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