Hurricanes leave a trail of devastation and a study that has delved into the mental psyche of hurricane survivors has shown the prevalence of deep scars that take very long to heal.
A team of students from the Florida State University led by sociology graduate student David Russell, analyzed the mental state of 975 adolescents who had survived the1992' Hurricane Andrew. These youth took the survey before the hurricane struck and subsequent surveys were answered in the five to seven years after the hurricane.
In the finding, Russell and his colleagues said that the students who had already experienced some form of stressful event prior to the hurricane, appeared highly vulnerable to the long term repercussions of hurricane related psychological problems.
To quote the researchers' words, "The experience of emotional turmoil following this disaster appears to increase risk for certain stressful life events, such as failing a grade in school, being sent away from home, or having to live apart from one's parents. We believe that these additional adversities act synergistically with previous stress and distress to increase one's level of depressive symptoms in young adulthood."
These findings can form the basis of the different approaches that response workers could consider, in handling the high risk category of survivors and identifying the type of help they would require in managing mental health problems.