News / Americas

Psychiatrists Predict Haitians Face Long-term Mental Health Issues

Many are likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by exposure to a terrifying event such as the earthquake
Many are likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, brought on by exposure to a terrifying event such as the earthquake

Multimedia

As Haiti tries to recover from the disaster, one of the greatest challenges will be rebuilding infrastructure that includes good sanitation, clean water, and meals for the displaced. But the mental health of thousands of Haitians will be an issue long after international aid workers have left the country.  Psychiatrists say it could be months before victims and their families feel the full effect of the earthquake, and that, they say, is when their work really begins.

It was a horrific disaster. Psychiatrists say people who react with shock, grief, and even anger, are responding normally to an abnormal event. 

But later on, other equally strong emotions could surface, including the loss of a sense of structure, one of the most important things in a person's life.

If people lose that structure, without knowing what's coming next, it can be devastating, says Dr. Lorenzo Norris of George Washington University Hospital.
"Your mind will not really come to rest unless you have a secure environment. You know where your next meal is coming from, and you feel safe or someone is accounting for you."

Dr. Norris believes most Haitians will eventually recover from the trauma.  But some will need treatment.  An estimated eight to 10 percent of the population is likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), brought on by exposure to a terrifying event such as the earthquake.

Those most vulnerable have often experienced previous psychiatric illness or suffered overwhelming loss.  They are most likely to suffer from PTSD, or what's called Major Depressive Disorder. 

Dr. Norris says families and friends should watch out for symptoms of withdrawal, nightmares and flashbacks, which are memories of the tragic event. "Someone not moving forward and not being able to adapt, despite their sincere efforts to do so," he explained.

First responders are also likely to need mental health counseling. They are the rescue workers, police, doctors, nurses, even the journalists who tell the story to the world. 

"It is those folks who are on the front line, the people that go there first, the folks that are digging through the rubble, that are finding the children.  We as psychiatrists have a vested interest in making sure that their psychological health is really taken into account," Dr. Norris said.

Medication to relieve anxiety and pain, or to provide sleep can help human beings survive and acclimate.  But mental health experts say recovery begins with recognition of the human resilience that provides hope of a better future.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Venezuelan Socialist Party Swaps God for Chavez in New Prayer

Delegate Maria Estrella Uribe recites 'prayer' on Monday at PSUV party Congress to implore beloved late leader for protection from evils of capitalism
More

Tropical Storms Bear Down on Mexico From Both Coasts

Two separate storms risk a double hit on country a year after pair of storms converged to cause major flooding that killed over 100 people
More

Mixed Signals on Second Migrant Wave at US Border

Number of Central Americans apprehended at the border peaked in June, but reports from migrants indicate more might be on the way
More

Cuba Enacts New Rules to Restrict Imports

New rules increase duties on items such as televisions, limit the number of personal items air travelers can bring to Cuba and increase duties on mailed packages
More

Nicaragua Rescuers Save 20 Miners; Search Continues

Wall of mud, rocks trap miners at El Comal site in Bonanza, 420 kilometers northeast of Managua
More

Shortage-weary Venezuelans Scoff at Fingerprinting Plan

Proposal on food sales sparks backlash ranging from violent street protests to social media campaigns ridiculing the idea
More