Tsunami in Kerala, India: Long-Term Psychological Distress, Sense of Coherence, Social Support, and Coping in a Non-Industrialized Setting
3 Risk Factors and Predictors of PTSD
The question arises, “What turns a stressful experience into a traumatic one?” Different people deal with similar experiences in different ways, and only a small percentage of people suffer from enduring psychological distress. Wheth- er someone develops PTSD or not depends on internal and external processes, which are influenced by aspects of the traumatic experience, as well as person- ality and situational factors (Krüsmann & Müller-Cyran, 2005). Given that approximately 50 percent to 60 percent of the U.S. population is exposed to traumatic stress but only 5 to 10 percent develop PTSD, which sys- tematic risk factors identify who will or will not develop PTSD (Ozer, et al., 2003)? Various factors can increase the risk of developing PTSD after experienc- ing a trauma. Examples are the subjective experienced loss of control or the expectation of adverse consequences (Maercker, Schützwohl & Beauducel, 2000). Not only cognitive, but also demographic and personality factors in- crease the probability of suffering from PTSD, such as low intelligence or a lack of education, being female, a pre-existing psychiatric illness or being young (meta-analysis by Brewin, Andrew & Valentine, 2000), or old age (Maercker, 1998; Phifer & Norris, 1989). Peri- and post-traumatic factors (e.g. severity of the trauma, social support, and additional stress of everyday life) play a greater role than pre-traumatic factors (e.g. education, age, gender, pre- existing mental illness) (Brewin et al., 2000; Maercker, 2003). Loss of re- sources (such as feeling of control over one’s life, a sense of optimism, or feel- ing independent)...
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