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Young people suffering from fire trauma

By Kerces 23 November 2005 1

A study of young adults affected by the January 2003 bushfires has found a high rate of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Both the Canberra Times and the ABC reported on the study by the Centre for Mental Health Research, which is also carrying out similar studies for other age groups.

More than a third of the people aged 24 to 28 involved in the study had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for three to 18 months after the disaster, and five per cent were assessed as likely to still be suffering from it. This is three times higher than the usual level in Australia.

The CT said the study found people who stayed and fought the fire and those who were evacuated at late notice were equally as susceptible to the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, but the researchers said being evacuated and feeling a loss of control over the safety of a home had a more profound influence on the community simply because more people found themselves in that situation.

One of the researchers, Dr Ruth Parslow, told the CT that similar trends were becoming apparent in other studies being compiled of people aged 40-44 and 60-64 at the time of the fires.

The Phoenix Society’s Richard Arthur told the ABC, “It’s a very timely reminder that we must not stop positive efforts to assist people who are still doing it tough.”

The young adults involved in this study had been initially intervied in 1999 as part of a long-term study of depression and anxiety across a life span. They were re-interviewed after the bushfires “because they presented a unique opportunity to get a before and after picture of the event”.

Thumper, who was involved in fighting the fires, had this to say:

According to the article five per cent were assessed as likely to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder — three times the usual level of the disorder in the Australian community. This is not a good thing.

And more so, the people who were at the pointy end or in the Tiger Country at the time should also be studied as I have a sneaking suspicion that those figures maybe higher right across the demographic.

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Young people suffering from fire trauma
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Mr Evil 10:34 am 24 Nov 05

On 18/01/2003 I tripped over my garden hose and in the process I spilt my beer, and that WAS really traumatic!

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