Any of the following variable may play a role in PTSD developing; history of mental illness, traumatic injury, experiencing horror, helplessness and extreme fear, little or no support post event, and dealing with extra stress after the incident. (American Psychiatric Association, 2000)
Natural disasters produce anxiety and stress for the survivors. Although after a natural disaster there are people on hand to help the victims, the survivors cultivate a sense of loss of control in their lives and produces further depression. A survivor may become trapped in a vicious cycle (Ejaz,ara,2010). The lingering stress and anxiety may cause PTSD and present at any age.
On May 12, 2008 at 2:28 PM, an earthquake that measured 8.0 on the Richter scale hit Southwest China. Official figures stated that 69,196 people were initially confirmed dead on the spot. Over 4.8 were left homeless. When the earthquake struck there was a little 12 month old girl named Juan who was playing in a playground. She was left alone with many dead bodies with closed eyes around her. Juan shook the dead bodies trying to wake them up.
Dr. Ren, Dr. Deng, and Dr. Hsu, conducted a study on this little girl who began to experience PTSD following the earthquake. She would frequently wake up in middle of the night crying and petrified. She would try to wake up her parents when she saw their eyes were shut. Their mere sight of closed eyes would cause her to have an anxiety attack. Juan met with a psychiatrist from the group that closed his eyes to evoke the characteristics responses to that stimulus. Predictably, Juan immediately began to cry and wake the doctor by shaking him. The doctors then diagnosed her with PTSD. The psychiatrist and her mother would meet weekly to discuss the child’s development and the obstacles that PTSD was causing. The mother informed the psychiatrist that Juan’s first word was “dead,” and she was incapable of watching any video clips of the disaster. The sound of rattling bothered her immensely, to the point that she would not allow her playmates to play with any toys that made rattling sounds (Ren,Deng,Hsu,2011).
Several months later, during one of the mother’s sessions with the psychiatrist, the mother happily reported that she was seeing progress in the child. She informed the doctor that there was improvements in Juan’s sleeping habits, and that she started to play with her friends nicely. However, Juan still suffered anxiety at the sound of rattling, and the sight of closed eyes she would immediately try to shake the sleeping person. The doctor advised the mother that to help Juan recover, the proper method is to explain to Juan that the person is just sleeping. The mother would wake up when Juan shook her and repeatedly tell her that she was just asleep and not dead. Juan soon began to understand and would even tell her mother, “This person is sleeping” (Ren,Deng,Hsu,2011).
In the case study of Juan, learning from the fact that her first word was “dead,” the doctors proved that traumatic experiences do influence the brain growth of a