Chapter 10. Mental Health Consequences of Disasters

  1. Norman Sartorius3,
  2. Wolfgang Gaebel4,
  3. Juan José López-Ibor5 and
  4. Mario Maj6
  1. Evelyn J. Bromet1 and
  2. Johan M. Havenaar2

Published Online: 29 APR 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0470846488.ch10

Psychiatry in Society

Psychiatry in Society

How to Cite

Bromet, E. J. and Havenaar, J. M. (2002) Mental Health Consequences of Disasters, in Psychiatry in Society (eds N. Sartorius, W. Gaebel, J. J. López-Ibor and M. Maj), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470846488.ch10

Editor Information

  1. 3

    University of Geneva, Switzerland

  2. 4

    University of Düsseldorf, Germany

  3. 5

    Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

  4. 6

    University of Naples, Italy

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Putnam Hall, South Campus, Stony Brook, NY 11793-8790, USA

  2. 2

    Altrecht Institute for Mental Health Care, Vrouwjuttenhof 18, 3512 PZ Utrecht, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 APR 2002
  2. Published Print: 30 APR 2002

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471496823

Online ISBN: 9780470846483



  • disaster;
  • psychiatric epidemiology;
  • depression;
  • somatization;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • risk factors;
  • interventions;
  • natural experiment


Research on the mental health consequences of natural and human-made disasters has become one of the cornerstones of study of the role of environmental factors on mental health. Methodologically, natural and human-made disasters may be regarded as ‘natural experiments’ in mental health research, and the introduction of rigorous epidemiological methods has given the field firm scientific footing. Psychiatric epidemiologic research on the consequences of these events has demonstrated significant, long-term deleterious effects on mental health, particular depression, somatization, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders, as well as subclinical psychopathology in adult and child survivors. Disaster-related and personal risk factors are reviewed. The importance of longitudinal studies, particularly research in developing countries designed to provide insight into the intricate cultural and personal dynamics underlying the research findings, and elucidation of the optimal type and quantity of supportive interventions are key challenges for this area of research in the near future.