Research Topic

Ecological Disaster Neuropsychiatry

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All emergencies (natural and man-made disasters, dramatic ecological changes, terrorist attacks, war) provoke a nonspecific traumatic and social stress resulting in mental health deterioration. However, there are specific ecological features of different emergencies (i.e. ionizing radiation, chemicals, ...

All emergencies (natural and man-made disasters, dramatic ecological changes, terrorist attacks, war) provoke a nonspecific traumatic and social stress resulting in mental health deterioration. However, there are specific ecological features of different emergencies (i.e. ionizing radiation, chemicals, biological agents, climate changes (heat, cold) etc...) whose factors have specific neurotoxicity and non-specific biological adaptive responses which could provoke characteristic neuropsychiatric effects. This ecological neuropsychiatric effect is a result of a combination of traumatic-social stress and exogenous environmental, physical, chemical and/or biological factors.

The World Psychiatry Association has allocated a new section to Ecology, Psychiatry, & Mental Health, to take into account the new dramatically increasing challenges of modern society and global ecological changes. This can include effects on mental health through stress and physical/chemical/biological impact of ecological factors. Moreover, risk perception of these threats can also influence mental health. The significance of ecological impact is especially large in states of emergency such as natural disasters or war.

Currently, psychiatry of disaster is socio-psychologically oriented with an underestimation of neurotoxicity of ecological impact itself. Taking into account that ecological factors may provoke both psychiatric and neurological disorders, the neuropsychiatric approach, with the use of a biopsychosocial paradigm in the management of patients with mental disorders that have been affected by adverse environmental factors, seems to be the most practical approach to solving the problems of ecological psychiatry and the psychiatry of disaster.

This Topic aims to collect papers related to comprehensive neuropsychiatric research (biological, clinical, and epidemiological) of the ecological emergencies as follows:

1. Radiation emergencies:
• A-bombing (Japan)
• Disasters at nuclear reactors (Three-Miles Island, USA; Chornobyl, USSR/Ukraine; Fukushima, Japan)
• Accidents at nuclear facilities (USSR; USA; UK etc)
2. Depleted Uranium neuropsychiatric effects (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) – Balkan and Persian Gulf Wars
3. Chemical emergencies (Bhopal, India; Sevezo, Italy; Flixborough, UK; Suchjou, China; Sandoz, Switzerland; Yaroslavl’, Russia; Ionave, USSR/Lithuania; Mexico, Mexico)
4. Vietnam War (orange agent)
5. Biological disasters (Sverdlovsk, USSR/Russia)
6. Climate changes (heat, cold)
7. Psychophysiology of space flights
8. Psychophysiological adaptation to extreme conditions
9. Main principles of prevention and management of mental and physical health at emergencies


Keywords: disaster, ecology, neurotoxicity, neuropsychiatric effects, mental health


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