Objectives: Natural disasters may increase risk for a broad range of psychiatric disorders, both in the short- and in the medium-term. We sought to determine the prevalence and longitudinal course of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), depression, and suicidality in the first 18 months after Hurricane Ike.
Methods: Six hundred fifty-eight adults representative of Galveston and Chambers Counties, Texas participated in a random, population-based survey. The initial assessment was conducted 2 to 5 months after Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Bay on September 13, 2008. Follow-up assessments were conducted at 5 to 9 and 14 to 18 months after Hurricane Ike. Results: Past-month prevalence of any mental disorder (20.6% to 10.9%) and hurricane-related PTSD (6.9% to 2.5%) decreased over time. Past-month prevalence of PTSD related to a non-disaster traumatic event (5.8% to 7.1%), GAD (3.1% to 1.8%), PD (0.8% to 0.7%), depression (5.0% to 5.6%), and suicidality (2.6% to 4.2%) remained relatively stable over time.
Conclusions: PTSD, both due to the hurricane and due to other traumatic events, was the most prevalent psychiatric disorder 2 to 5 months after Hurricane Ike. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders declined rapidly over time, suggesting that the vast majority of individuals exposed to this natural disaster ‘bounced back’ and were resilient to long-term mental health consequences of this large-scale traumatic event.
Pietrzak, Robert H.; Tracy, Melissa; Galea, Sandro; Kilpatrick, Dean G.; Ruggiero, Kenneth J.; Hamblen, Jessica L.; Southwick, Steven M.; and Norris, Fran H., "Resilience in the Face of Disaster: Prevalence and Longitudinal Course of Mental Disorders following Hurricane Ike" (2012). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 3167.