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Posttraumatic eco-stress disorder is an emerging reality


Posttraumatic eco-stress disorder (PTESD) is an emerging reality.

This anxiety disorder is similar to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with some varying degrees, impacts, and interpretations.

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Posttraumatic stress disorder was first recognized in 1980.  A considerable amount of research has been accumulated on this clinical entity in the last 30 years.  In essence, when someone goes through a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, serious accident, child sexual or physical abuse, war, or assault, he or she may develop this mental health setback.

After a traumatic event, most people develop a stress reaction.  Over time, if this stress reaction does not go away the victim’s life may be disrupted to the point where the individual develops the symptoms of PTSD, which comprise of nightmares, the jitters, bad memories, anxiety, depression, and flashbacks.

Posttraumatic eco-stress disorder

On the other hand, though posttraumatic eco-stress disorder is similar to PTSD, for the most part, PTESD is somewhat different from PTSD.

Natural disasters, ecological events, and incidents like animal attacks affect humans economically, psychologically, socially, and physically which causes eco-stress in the form of clinical depression, psychotic episodes, fear, and anxiety, to name a few.

Posttraumatic eco-stress disorder Animal attacks resulting in near-death experiences and serious bodily injuries cause victims to feel helplessness, fear, and horror.

Their sleeping patterns are disrupted; they have nightmares, flashbacks, and recurring memories just like PTSD victims.

People living in regions where they make their living from fishing or farming are exposed to wild animal attacks, such as crocodiles, bears, tigers, snakes, wolves, wild dogs, mountain lions, and shark.

These people live in eco specific areas that become physically and emotionally threatening to their lives.

The reality of eco-stress

Ecological changes like climate change, deforestation, and rising sea levels disturb the habitat of animals causing them to stray to villages and towns.  This movement of wild animals is necessary for them to find shelter and food due to the disruption of their initial food chain and natural habitat.

The potential of attacks on humans in populated areas increases with the influx of wild animals.

Natural and anthropogenic ecological impacts on agricultural regions disrupt the flow of rivers, cause frequent storms, floods, and soil erosion, which cause eco-stress for people living in these areas, as well.  In addition, the use of pesticides may contribute to health difficulties for both animals and humans.

Posttraumatic eco-stress disorders become a reality for people who are faced with ecological changes.  We are expecting to see a rise in the number of indigenous people developing posttraumatic eco-stress disorder in an array of regions on our ever-evolving planet.

About the author: George Zapo, CPH is certified in Public Health Promotion and Education (Kent State University). George focuses on providing informative articles promoting healthy behavior and lifestyles.

6 comments… add one
  • I understand the eco-stress from bear attacks.

    Having been raised in the woods myself, in the 1960’s, I still think it a good idea to walk with a rifle in arm where there are “critters” about. If one does not want to be accused of poaching it is a simple matter of loading a few blanks in a clip in advance of the protective live rounds. If a dangerous animal approaches let a few blanks off in quick succession, along with a few good yells, to let the animals know there is danger about.

    The peace and privacy of living in the woods is certainly worth the cost. A few good 30-30 explosions are a good protection and help safely teach the animals to keep to their part of the woods. At least that is what we found.

    Our neighbors miles away were never bothered, either.

  • Lynda Appell

    Eco stress. That’s a new one for me. I understand from reading what you wrote how some people’s environment can be quite stressful. I think too if one is living in a high crime neighborhood that can cause much stress too. I don’t ever go out with its dark by myself…..to be on the safe side.

    • I understand and appreciate your concern about going out in the dark, Lynda.

      One never knows what’s lurking.

      High crime neighborhoods are considered areas that can cause people to feel ‘eco-stress.’

      Be careful and take care, Lynda…

  • Very interesting and concerning, George.
    So, I am to assume that my neighbors in Colorado may experience this? We have had fires and floods. The critters are hungry with no place to go except maybe to people’s backyards and dumpsters.

    • Your assumption is correct, Malika.

      We also feel the effects of eco-stress when we become obsessive in our concern of recycling, our thoughts of climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, scarcity of water, etc. Especially if we have children who will live in the next 30-40 years.

      I live on top of a mountain in the Allegheny mountains. It’s seven acres of wooded land. My mailbox is a quarter of a mile down my wooded driveway. We’ve been attacked by bears twice. The fear felt in walking on our land causes a form of eco-stress.

      You’ll be hearing more about ‘eco-stress’ in the coming years.

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