Psychosomatic problems after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995 (II) - Physical stress responses

T. Tsujiuchi, K. Yoshiuchi, H. Shimada, K. Ito, A. Akabayashi, H. Kumano, S. Nomura, T. Kuboki, Y. Sakano, H. Suematsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study systematically evaluated the psychosomatic reactions, especially physical symptoms of the victims living in the temporary shelters after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January 1995. There are not so many studies which describe the somatic symptoms of victims in detail and reveal the results of blood pressure measurement after a natural disaster. As there has been no research which excludes the confounding factors in order to evaluate the effects of damages, it is a distinctive feature of this study that the multiple logistic regression analysis was performed in it. Physical and mental conditions of eighty victims (mean age 47.2 ± 19.3; males: n = 27, females: n = 53) were examined one month after the quake. Subjects were also requested to administer a checklist of psychosomatic symptoms which consisted of DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for ASD and PTSD. Blood pressure of about two hundred victims was measured both two and five weeks after the quake. Subjects of two weeks after the quake were 191 victims (mean age = 58.4 ± 13.1; males n = 68, females: n = 123), and five weeks after the quake were 217 victims (mean age = 60.1 ± 12.1; males: n = 77, females: n = 140). Victims showed significantly more physical symptoms of insomnia, easy fatigue, anorexia, headache, palpitation, chest pain than non-victims as a control group. It was also found that three factors of victims, i.e. morbidity of chronic disease, death of close relatives, and complete destruction of houses had influence upon prevalence of psychosomatic symptoms. More symptoms of common cold, anorexia, easy fatigue, depressive feeling were found in victims with chronic diseases. Victims whose close relatives were killed by the quake showed significantly more symptoms of easy fatigue and less symptoms of common cold and anorexia. Victims whose houses were completely destroyed showed more symptoms of insomnia and depressive feeling. Forty-one to forty-six percent of victims who had not suffered from hypertension before the quake showed hypertensive status. Therefore, neurological, cardiovascular, and general symptoms were the most common reactions after exposure to the stressors due to disaster. Furthermore, these symptoms were affected by the severity of the damages in the disaster. These results suggest that somatic symptoms are important components of the reaction after a natural disaster. They also suggest the importance of proper care from both physical and mental perspectives, i.e. psychosomatic or holistic perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-665
Number of pages9
JournalJapanese Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine
Volume36
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Great Hanshin Earthquake
  • blood pressure measurement
  • multiple logistic regression analysis
  • physical stress responses
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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