Yolanda survivors in Iloilo show posttraumatic growth – study
ILOILO CITY, Philippines – A year after super typhoon Yolanda placed the country in a state of calamity, a local research finds victims from northern Iloilo to be in positive psychological states.
Sophomore medical students from West Visayas State University (WVSU) based in Iloilo City interviewed locals from 22 out of the 25 barangays in Estancia, Iloilo, where bodies were buried in mass graves after last year's typhoon.
“Our research findings showed that the respondents developed posttraumatic growth as a whole. Posttraumatic growth, in contrast to concepts like resilience, hardiness, and sense of coherence, refers to a change that goes beyond the ability to resist damage brought about by a highly traumatic situation. Posttraumatic decline, on one hand, is its contradictory,” said Mitz Serofia, team member.
The quantitative study entitled, "Posttraumatic Growth and Decline among Survivors of Supertyphoon Yolanda in Estancia, Iloilo” was conducted on Oct. 14-16 of this year. The 99 randomly selected respondents were above 18 years old, had primary and secondary education, and a monthly income below P2,500.
The researchers attribute the positive findings to the “culture, beliefs, priorities and experiences prior to experiencing the trauma.”
“On the other hand, the absence of posttraumatic decline in the study population suggests that the respondents were able to successfully come through this highly challenging circumstance without experiencing remarkable disruptions in their psychological adjustment, cognitive development and emotional awareness,” said Serofia.
Corazon Guarzanas, a resident of the neighboring town of Barotac Viejo is one example of the famed Filipino resiliency. She was 91 years old when Yolanda’s spite tore their wooden walls and roofs with crazed wind and rain.
Last year, Corazon’s photo with her sitting in the foreground of her damaged house appeared on the BBC. Now, Corazon’s family successfully built a new home through their own funds and efforts. Aside from her atrophied lower left leg muscles, the stroke survivor and retired teacher claims she is doing fine. She says her prayers get her through the day.
When asked about her secret to a long life, Corazon only laughed and says no more as though that was a sufficient answer.
Posttraumatic growth and decline however are separate entities from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.” Some victims from Northern Iloilo towns have reported crying and panicky behavior among themselves, more prominently in children, during heavy downpours.
“However, you can say that the presence of posttraumatic growth and absence of posttraumatic decline, according to other studies, is a good predictor of psychological adjustment,” added Serofia.
The study was chosen to be presented at an international research conference on climate change in Nepal on January 2015. – Rappler.com
The writers and photographer are volunteers for the Typhoon Yolanda Story Hub Visayas, a citizen journalism portal created on November 13, 2013, by veteran journalists, student writers, mobile journalists, and photographers based in Iloilo City. The Hub delivers reports from across the Panay Island, especially the severely damaged and minimally covered northern Iloilo and the provinces of Antique, Capiz, and Aklan.