Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and perceived needs for psychological care in older persons affected by Hurricane Ike

Robert H. Pietrzak, Steven M. Southwick, Melissa Tracy, Sandro Galea, Fran H. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To examine the prevalence and correlates of disaster-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and needs for psychological care in older persons affected by Hurricane Ike. Method: A total of 193 adults aged 60 or older who resided in the Galveston Bay area were interviewed 2-5 months following Hurricane Ike. Pre-, peri-, and post-disaster variables hypothesized to be related to PTSD and depressive symptoms, and perceived needs for psychological care were assessed. Results: Weighted prevalences of past-month Ike-related PTSD and depression were 7.6% and 8.6%, respectively. Risk factors for Ike-related PTSD symptoms were predominantly peri-disaster in nature, with greater hurricane exposure, and peri-event dissociative and autonomic activation symptoms associated positively with these symptoms. Risk factors for depressive symptoms were predominantly pre-disaster in nature, with being married/living with partner associated negatively, and prior disaster exposure and pre-disaster PTSD or depression associated positively with these symptoms. 27.2% of the sample endorsed at least one of the perceived needs for psychological care assessed. A history of PTSD or depression, greater peri-event autonomic activation, and Ike-related PTSD and depressive symptoms were associated with greater need for psychological care. Limitations: This study is limited by its cross-sectional design and employment of psychiatric screening instruments. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of older adults may have PTSD and depression, as well as perceived needs for psychological care, after a disaster. Assessment of disaster exposures, and peri-event dissociative and autonomic symptoms may help identify older adults at risk for disaster-related psychopathology. Older adults with a history of PTSD or depression, and greater peri-event autonomic activation and PTSD symptoms may be more likely to have needs for psychological care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-103
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume138
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Depression
  • Disaster
  • Functioning
  • Mental healthcare needs
  • Older adults
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

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