Psychological trauma after the Great East Japan Earthquake

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Abstract

The Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) struck the northeastern part of Japan on 11 March 2011 and triggered a devastating tsunami, causing widespread destruction along the coast of northeastern Japan. The tsunami also led to an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Incidents occurring in such major disasters are known to lead to psychological trauma. This paper has summarized English-language documentation regarding GEJE-related psychological trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Research thus far has reported the possibility of higher probable PTSD prevalence among residents of the GEJE areas than in the average Japanese population during normal times. At the very least, many people have experienced trauma symptoms at self-recognition levels 1 year or longer after the disaster. It appears that the percentage of persons with high PTSD risk was higher in regions with radiation-related impacts than in regions where the main damage was caused by the earthquake and tsunami. Results have not been limited to showing relations between severe exposure to a traumatic event and PTSD symptoms but also show that a variety of factors, including social factors, has been shown to interact with PTSD symptoms. The fact that Japanese society as a whole united against the trauma of the GEJE may have worked to minimize the effects of trauma. To grasp a full picture of the effects of psychological trauma due to the GEJE, further surveys and research are necessary. It will be necessary to continue engagements related to these problems and issues into the future.

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