EARTHQUAKES

Down Cashel St from Colombo St  - locked off and empty Down Cashel St from Colombo St - locked off and empty CREDIT: Word of Mouth Media NZ
The 17-storey Clarendon Towers on Oxford Tce – one of hundreds of buildings still to come down The 17-storey Clarendon Towers on Oxford Tce – one of hundreds of buildings still to come down CREDIT: Word of Mouth Media NZ

100 percent increase in Christchurch people with post traumatic stress disorders

Wednesday 22 February 2012, 8:48AM
By Word of Mouth Media NZ
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CHRISTCHURCH

Today is a day for recalling the terrifying events of February 22 last year but mental anguish and post-traumatic stress disorder have rocketed in Christchurch since the earthquakes began.

Christchurch counsellors, the Durham Centre say, they have seen a 100 percent increase in people needing treatment since the fir big one on September 4, 2010.

``Even now that people have adjusted to experiencing aftershocks we still have more referrals immediately following any after-shocks over magnitude four,’’ Durham Centre counsellor Karin Schaeper said today.

``Sleep deprivation, hyper-vigilance and irritability form the prevalent symptoms for that referral group. Since December 23 referrals for children (three to 12) have also significantly increased.

``Major stress disorders include sleeping problems, anxiety, depression (hopelessness/ unable to look towards a more positive future or even focus on remaining positive in present), anger, irritability and anxiety. We are also seeing an increase in alcohol use and change of eating patterns (more comfort eating).’’

Schaeper said the majority of people attended due to stress factors of dealing with insurance/CERA, the rebuild of a house or work on the property required and relocation (if red) due to a tight housing market.

She said more assistance was needed to help people through the process of proceeding with insurance claims. Clients felt there was little support out there and it was costly to have guidance (legal and engineering) through the process.

``We are grieving multiple losses - the death of family or friends, loss of work, home – the familiar neighbourhoods. We lost the illusion that the ground we walk on is safe and the safety in our homes.

Some are grieving for the loss of friends and family that have moved away. Others are taking this as an opportunity to reassess life or relationships.

``Our resilience has been lowered due to the loss of ability to see a safe future ahead. Older people have compared this to World War 2 but when the bombing stopped people felt temporarily safe, while Cantabrians live with constant uncertainty.’’

She said people were struggling to deal with ongoing frustration and confusion (emphasised when dealing with insurance companies/CERA/mortgage lenders) which was leading to irritability and anger.

This was affecting families, partner relationships and parenting. People are struggling to meet their children’s needs when stressed. Ongoing symptoms will most commonly be depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue, Schaeper said.