Anniversary Of Two Mexico Quakes Triggers Bad Memories, Trauma

Psychologists at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México are helping those who experienced the 1985 and 2017 September earthquakes deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

By Acacia Coronado & Michael MarksSeptember 19, 2018 1:21 pm|

For many in central Mexico, Sept. 19 is a dreaded day. It’s the day, in 1985, when a magnitude 8.0 earthquake rumbled through Mexico City, killing over 10,000 people. On the same day 32 years later, it happened again. And while the 2017 quake wasn’t nearly as lethal as the one in 1985, it traumatized people.

Marcela Rosas Peña, a psychologist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, has been working over the last year with those who experienced the quake, and says some are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.

“In the research, we’ve observed the people who experienced the earthquake before, in 1985, were more affected [by the 2017 quake],” Peña says. “People couldn’t sleep that night. Some people didn’t want to come back to their houses. People still have bad dreams about it.” 

Peña and her colleagues at UNAM in Mexico City have been helping residents work through their psychological trauma as the anniversary of the earthquakes approaches.

“We, as psychologists, have training about first response in these cases,” Peña says. “We are ready to respond to these crises because even though today – we hope – there is no earthquake, this day will be very traumatic for many people. We are ready to give people the first psychological response to help them to calm down their crises.”  

Written by Brooke Vincent.