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Keywords:

  • depression;
  • earthquake;
  • fear;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • Turkey

This study examined the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid depression some three years after the August 1999 earthquake in Turkey among a sample of 769 survivors relocated to a permanent housing site built for homeless survivors in the epicentre region. Time since trauma was 3.1 years for 81 per cent of the participants and 3.9 years for the remainder. Survivors were assessed using the Screening Instrument for Traumatic Stress in Earthquake Survivors, an easily administered self-rating scale with demonstrated validity. The estimated rates of PTSD and comorbid depression were 40 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively. Linear regression analyses showed that PTSD strongly related to fear during the earthquake, while depression related to loss of family members. These results suggest that catastrophic earthquakes have long-term psychological consequences and highlight the need for a cost-effective mental health care model for earthquake survivors.