Christchurch Quakes Take Toll On Survivors' Mental Health: Study

WELLINGTON, July 17 (Bernama) -- People seriously affected by the earthquakes in Christchurch and surrounding Canterbury region are twice as likely to be addicted to smoking and 40 percent more likely to have mental health problems, Xinhua news agency reports quoting a study.

The study by University of Otago's researchers of more than 1,000 people born in Canterbury in 1977 showed those who experienced "serious adversity" in the quakes were 40 percent more likely to suffer disorders including depression, post-traumatic stress or anxiety, and 1.9 times more likely to be dependent on nicotine.

"These findings are likely to apply to other areas affected by major disasters and highlight the need to provide increased support to those most severely affected by these disasters," said researcher Prof. David Fergusson.

"It is also clear, however, that the majority of those facing disasters are resilient and do not develop mental health problems," he said.

Fergusson said it appeared the psychological impact of the quakes could have been worse if community spirit were not so strong.

"A key consideration is the well-organised and responsive way in which the Canterbury community responded to these disasters with widespread support for those families affected by the disasters," he said.

Christchurch was rocked by a magnitude 7.1 quake that caused no casualties in September 2010 but a 6.3 magnitude quake the following February left 185 people dead and was followed by thousands of aftershocks.


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