Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Psychological Distress and Coping Strategies among Families of Missing Persons in Pakistan

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Psychological Distress and Coping Strategies among Families of Missing Persons in Pakistan

Article excerpt

Psychological distress is rarely defined as a distinctive concept and is often embedded in the concept of strain, stress, and distress (Bonanno, 2006). Lerutta (2002) considers psychological distress as the emotional condition that one feels while coping with unsettling, frustrating or detrimental situations. Psychological distress is an act of divergence from healthy state of being and involves maladaptive patterns of coping; usually reflected as negative feelings of restlessness, depression (Bondurka-Beverse et al., 2000), anger, anxiety, loneliness (Durakovic-Belko, Kulenovic, & Dapic, 2003), isolation, problematic interpersonal relationships (Barlow & David, 2002), and suicidal thoughts (Decker, 1997). The effects of negative life events can be measured by using variety of outcomes including transience (Lantz, 2005), depression (Taylor & Turner, 2002), and health (Treharne, Lyons & Tupling, 2001).

Predictors of psychological distress assessed in Lebanese hostages of war (Saab, Chaaya, Doumit, & Farhood, 2003), indicated that even after two years of release, hostages had experienced psychological distress and turned to religion in the hope of finding refuge and therapy. A longitudinal investigation exploring psychological distress among the migrants in Australia (Chou, 2006) suggested that refugees reported poor mental health as compare to those who move toward Australia for family reunion. Moreover, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is reported in Palestinian adolescents (Qouta, Punamaki, Montgomery, & Sarraj, 2007), when they experienced stressful life events and military violence and also showed low cognitive and high chance of neuroticism in childhood. Studies of young adults (Bonanno, 2006) found that people exposed to trauma had radically elevated existence of any anxiety disorder which usually includes posttraumatic stress disorder, panic disorders, agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Similarly, it has been observed that trauma greatly affects the emotional and subjective well-being and disruption of other psychological resources (Treharne, Lyons, & Tupling, 2001).

Empirical evidence indicated that men and women differ in perceptions of distress (Misra, McKean, West, & Russo, 2000). It is observed that women reported greater number of academic stressors than men (Akhtar, 2005) and men tend to perceive life events as less stressful and react more positively to life stressors (Misra et al., 2000). Additionally, women perceived school, friend, and work scenarios to be more distressing than men (Thapa & Hauff, 2005); and are more likely to seek support from their friends and family members to a greater degree in order to cope with distressing situations (Lantz, 2005). Traditional gender role stereotypes of men and women have been used to explain such findings (Taylor & Turner, 2002); endorsing the differential vulnerability hypothesis (Agaibi & Wilson, 2005), which suggest that when faced with identical stressors, women perceived greater distress than men. Gender-related differences in the rate of posttraumatic symptoms in post-earthquake studies (Toukmanian, Jadaa, & Lanless, 2000) revealed that women reported more symptoms of distress, while few studies found no gender difference in reported symptoms (Goenjian et al., 2001).

Coping is broadly perceived as implicit and explicit behaviors employed to dynamically lessen the reactions to strain inducing situations (Wilson & Drozdek, 2004). Coping mechanism may assist the individuals to adjust their judgments and behaviors with the aim of resolving the source of stress and managing emotional reactions to stress (Compas, Connor-Smith, Saltzman, Thomson, & Wadsworth, 2001 ).

The modification effects of coping strategies on the relationships between rescue efforts and psychiatric morbidity in earthquake rescue workers (Chang, Lee, Connor, Davison, & Lai, 2008) revealed that more frequent use of coping strategies could reduce the effect of exposure to rescue efforts. …

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