'War zone' stress affecting residents

10:16 am on 16 June 2011

Health providers are concerned about the anxiety and stress Christchurch residents are undergoing and are urging those having trouble coping to seek medical attention.

Canterbury mental health liaison officer Cerina Altenburg the continuing quakes, and people's uncertainty about their jobs and property, are having a devastating effect on mental health.

She says people are showing signs of extreme stress, similar to that experienced by people who live in a war zone.

"People who had never previously approached any psychological support services are finding themselves out of their depth and overwhelmed."

Ms Altenburg says anxiety is becoming chronic and people are self-medicating with alcohol.

Women's Refuge is reporting a 30% increase in cases since the February quake.

GP Simon Wynn-Thomas says people who feel they are not coping mentally must seek medical attention as soon as possible.