Emotion and trauma: underlying emotions and trauma symptoms in two flooded populations
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Flood literature presents an inconsistent account of post-disaster distress; debating whether distress is pathological or normal and attempting to understand distress in terms of disaster variables. The literature therefore provides little guidance as to how to formulate difficulties in a clinically meaningful way reflective of individual’s experiences. The SPAARS model is presented as a model by which to reconcile these differences and quantitative support for its concepts were studied within two flooded samples. Participants who were flooded in Carlisle in 2005 (n=32) and participants flooded in Morpeth in 2008 (n=29) provided two samples at different stages in flood recovery and facilitated a quasi-longitudinal sample for comparison of flood-related distress over time. Participants were asked to complete a survey pertaining to: basic emotions experienced during the flood event, basic emotions experienced after the flood, Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R), Regulation of Emotions Questionnaire (REQ) and the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI). Findings suggest that a third of participants who were flooded experienced clinically significant levels of distress, even after four years. Both samples showed higher levels of impact symptoms on the IES compared to symptoms on the TSI. Anxiety and anger were significant in reported flood experiences both during and after the flooding. Flood-related variables and previous experiences had no effect on increased distress but greater use of internal-dysfunctional emotion regulation strategies was related to increased impact and distress symptoms. Study findings and the SPAARS model are discussed in relation to previous flooding and PTSD literature, as well as clinical implications for the treatment of post-disaster distress and for the future management of flood-affected populations.