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Japan's Disaster Survivors Still to Face the Mental Agony

by Tanya Thomas on March 15, 2011 at 9:27 AM
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 Japan's Disaster Survivors Still to Face the Mental Agony

Medical experts have warned of the psychological aftershocks to be felt by many survivors of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami in the weeks to come.

Dr Mutsuo Ikuhara, who is travelling to Japan with the International Medical Corps, said most survivors would be in a state of just trying to survive the first few weeks after the tragedy.


"I would still think there's a lot of people in shock and coming to grips with the magnitude of the disaster," the New York Daily News has quoted him, as saying.

"The disaster seems to be changing moment by moment, so I'd imagine they'd be taking stock on how much damage occurred in terms of surface area and number of family and people affected," he added.

As the horrific event sinks in, however, Ikuhara said he expected to see people with more stress-related issues.

"Eventually when things stabilize those life and death issues they're going to say 'Oh my god I lost everything' and that's usually what affects all of us -that's when emotions can take control," he said.

Dr Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, said that he expected to see a common pattern in Japan that he had seen with other natural disasters of an outbreak of anxiety disorders and triggering of already existing disorders.

He, however, added the recovery time could depend on how well the government reacts but pointed out that after World War II, the country had one of the most startling recoveries in recent history.

"I think it undoubtedly affect workers' ability to be productive and concentrate and be creative and do their jobs," said Lieberman.

"On the other hand, people are resilient and Japan has been particularly resilient," he added.

Source: ANI

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