Overcoming Earthquakes

You can add earthquakes to the list of exposure therapies now available. Earthquake survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can successfully combat their anxiety with an earthquake simulator, according to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Researchers studied women suffering from PTSD caused by the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, which measured a horrific 7.4 on the Richter scale and killed thousands. Women were more than three times as likely as men to develop PTSD after the Turkish quake, researchers found. Without treatment, only 10 percent of PTSD sufferers recovered from their fear, but after just one hour in the simulator, stressful symptoms improved 80 to 90 percent, according to Metin Basoglu, M.D., Ph.D., who heads the trauma studies department at the University of London.

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The women could control the machine-simulated tremors, which helped to decondition the fear response.

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