Solastalgia: living with the environmental damage caused by natural disasters

Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014 Feb;29(1):87-90. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X13009266. Epub 2014 Jan 17.


Forced separation from one's home may trigger emotional distress. People who remain in their homes may experience emotional distress due to living in a severely damaged environment. These people experience a type of 'homesickness' similar to nostalgia because the land around them no longer resembles the home they knew and loved. What they lack is solace or comfort from their home; they long for the home environment to be the way it was before. "Solastalgia" is a term created to describe feelings which arise in people when an environment changes so much that it negatively affects an individual's quality of life. Such changed environments may include drought-stricken areas and open-cut mines. The aim of this article is to describe how solastalgia, originally conceptualized as the result of man-made environmental change, can be similarly applied to the survivors of natural disasters. Using volcanic eruptions as a case example, the authors argue that people who experience a natural disaster are likely to suffer from solastalgia for a number of reasons, which may include the loss of housing, livestock and farmland, and the ongoing danger of living in a disaster-prone area. These losses and fears challenge people's established sense of place and identity and can lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Environment*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Volcanic Eruptions*