Earthquakes And Mental Health

Earthquakes and mental health are deeply connected. According to different studies, earthquakes, like all other natural disasters, have wide-ranging adverse effects on mental health. 

Earthquakes are unexpected traumatic life events and, thereby, extremely overwhelming. Even though the primary rescue operations that are undertaken attend to the obvious physical damages, a rise in mental health issues also starts to arise in the wake of an earthquake.

Let’s learn more about how earthquakes and mental health issues are interconnected:

1. Earthquakes and Depression

Depressive disorders and earthquakes have been interlinked by several researchers. Symptoms of depression increased significantly among survivors and, in some, persisted for extremely long durations.

In a study conducted four months after the devastating 2015 Japan earthquake disaster by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health significant correlation was found between earthquakes and depression. One out of every three adults suffered from depression and high levels of anger. This study initiated an integral conversation regarding post-disaster care for mental health.

Another study connected by Xing Gao et al. 37 years after the Tangshan earthquake provided evidence of long-term depressive disorders in survivors. Bereaved survivors over 18 at the time of the earthquake showed symptoms of depression. The findings offer evidence in favor of the fact that an earthquake’s impact on depression can last for more than a decade.

2. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Earthquakes

Post-traumatic stress disorder and earthquakes are significantly correlated. PTSD is one of the most prevalent disorders that arise in the wake of earthquakes. 

In an analysis of 76,101 earthquake survivors, a staggering 23.66% were found to have the symptoms of PTSD. Death, injury to family members, and property damage are risk factors associated with PTSD. 

A study carried out after the 1987 Ecuador earthquake on 150 adult patients in a hospital found a high prevalence of emotional and stress disorders among them. 

Researchers found that 42% of people showed clinically significant levels of PTSD in a study conducted two years after the 2011 Haiti earthquake.

Rescue operation team members and health workers employed during earthquakes have also been found to have significant implications on their mental health. 

All the evidence suggests the great importance of paying attention to the trauma-inducing factors for the proper physical and mental well-being of earthquake survivors.

Read More: National PTSD Awareness Month

3. Sleeping Problems and Earthquakes

A plethora of individuals have reported sleeping problems in the wake of an earthquake. Significant stress, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders are touted to be factors behind sleeping issues among survivors. 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that 94% of individuals reported insomnia symptoms in a study conducted two years after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Besides this, daytime fatigue, short sleep time, and nightmares were also reported in children and adolescents. 

Read More: Guided Sleep Meditation


Mental health services are one of the most pressing needs in the wake of a natural disaster. A covert wave of mental and behavioral health risks will linger invisible, unheard, and unacknowledged for years among the survivors. 

The victims’ more pressing and immediate needs may overshadow the critical need to address mental health issues. However, we must learn that with adequate meals and clothing, people might also need psychological help.

Now that you know the relation between earthquakes and mental health let us take you to another traumatic event and its implication on your mind. To find out about the effects of bullying on mental health, click here.

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