We know that post-traumatic stress and other long-term psychological distress can arise when people live through a profound and direct trauma such as an attack or injury. But new research shows that just perceiving a life threat, even if distanced from immediate danger, has long-term consequences, too. Of 1,500 Swedish residents who were within the disaster area of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, one fifth of those experiencing mental health issues 14 months later were not directly impacted during the tsunami. The study’s authors recommend better preparing first responders to identify people who’ve felt their lives were threatened, and better follow-up and therapy referral to those people in the months after the event.
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