Posttraumatic Stress and Depression in the Aftermath of Environmental Disasters: A Review of Quantitative Studies Published in 2018

  • Sarah R. LoweEmail author
  • Jessica L. Bonumwezi
  • Zerbrina Valdespino-Hayden
  • Sandro Galea
Environmental Disaster (D Sandler and A Miller, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Environmental Disasters


Purpose of Review

As interest in the mental health consequences of environmental disasters increases, this review aimed to summarize peer-reviewed studies published in 2018 on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms after such events.

Recent Findings

Notable trends in the past year of research included studies focusing on vulnerable populations (e.g., persons with preexisting physical health conditions), assessing the cumulative impact of exposure to multiple disasters, exploring pathway leading to PTSD and depression symptoms, and evaluating the effectiveness of post-disaster interventions.


Over 100 articles were identified, focused on 40 disasters that occurred between 1982 and 2017. Prevalence estimates ranged from 0 to 70.51% for PTSD and 1.9 to 59.5% for depression. Consistent predictors of adverse outcomes included female gender, socioeconomic disadvantage, high disaster exposure, and low psychosocial resources. Further research that expands upon recent advances in the literature is critical given the large proportion of the world’s population exposed to disasters and the increasing incidence of such events.


Environmental disasters Natural disasters Posttraumatic stress Depression Mental health 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah R. Lowe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica L. Bonumwezi
    • 2
  • Zerbrina Valdespino-Hayden
    • 2
  • Sandro Galea
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioral SciencesYale School of Public HealthNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMontclair State UniversityMontclairUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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