resilience reporter

resilience starts with information

Past stressful experiences do not create resilience to future trauma, new study finds

What type of person resists evacuation orders?

Two tropical storms have already made landfall in the U.S. this year, and the tropics are forecast to remain active for the rest of the season. This means hurricane evacuation orders may be needed at some point this summer.

Experts say that most people do heed evacuation orders, but they are still trying to figure out the reasons behind why some do not. “What concerns me is when people either don’t get the information, or they don’t understand the risk and they face really tragic circumstances afterward,” said Rebecca Morss, a research scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder. She said there are too many examples of hurricane survivors that end up regretting their decision to remain in harm’s way.

“And having personally talked to people that that’s happened to where they say if only, I had known this would happen,” she said. “And that information was there, and it just didn’t get to them in the right way or it didn’t get to them soon enough, is really tragic to see.”

The topic of what prevents people from heeding hurricane evacuation orders has been studied extensively over the years. They’ve looked at factors such as gender, income, risk perception and past experiences with natural disasters, but Morss led a new study focused on the cultural worldviews of individuals…

 

Past stressful experiences do not create resilience to future trauma, new study finds

trauma

“Past stressors sensitize people to future traumas, thereby increasing their chances of developing a mental health disorder.” Kerry Benson, Brown University Image credit: CC0 Public Domain

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—that claim is so universally accepted that it’s a common truism in contexts from everyday conversations to Top 40 pop charts.

But new research led by a team of Brown University researchers finds that this is false. In fact, the research suggests the opposite is true: Past stressors sensitize people to future traumas, thereby increasing their chances of developing a mental health disorder.

“We hope that this research will spur interest in the face of the increasing number of natural disasters per year—a major consequence of climate change—such as the devastating earthquake that affected Chile and neighboring countries,” said Cristina Fernandez, a psychiatric epidemiologist and the study’s lead author. “The immediate global impacts of these catastrophic events on disease, death and the economy are largely well-recognized. Unfortunately, despite a high disease burden, mental illness has thus far not achieved commensurate visibility, policy attention or funding.”

The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry on Thursday, June 11, was a collaborative effort led by scientists at Brown and the University of Concepción in central Chile…

 

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