Psychological functioning 1 year after a brief intervention using micronutrients to treat stress and anxiety related to the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes: a naturalistic follow-up

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014 May;29(3):230-43. doi: 10.1002/hup.2392. Epub 2014 Feb 19.


Objective: We investigated whether micronutrients given acutely following the Christchurch earthquakes continued to confer benefit 1 year following the treatment.

Methods: Sixty-four adults from the original 91 participants experiencing heightened anxiety or stress 2-3 months following the 22nd February 2011 earthquake and who had been randomized to receive three different doses of micronutrients completed on-line questionnaires assessing mood, anxiety, stress, and symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder 1 year after completing the initial study. Twenty-one out of 29 nonrandomized controls who did not receive the treatment also completed the questionnaires.

Results: Both the treated and control groups experienced significant improvement in psychological functioning compared with end-of-trial. However, treated participants had better long-term outcomes on most measures compared with controls (ES=0.69-1.31). Those who stayed on micronutrients through to follow-up or stopped all treatment reported better psychological functioning than those who switched to other treatments including medications. About 10% of the sample continued to have post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Conclusions: Disaster survivors improve psychologically over time regardless of receiving intervention; however, those taking micronutrients during the acute phase following a disaster show better outcomes, identifying micronutrients as a viable treatment for acute stress following a natural disaster with maintenance of benefits 1 year later. ACTRN 12611000460909

Keywords: anxiety; earthquakes; minerals; stress; treatment; vitamins.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Earthquakes*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • New Zealand
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / drug therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Micronutrients