Japanese earthquake to change people's lives forever?

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan last week (Friday March 11th) could stay with the people caught up in the natural disaster for the rest of their lives.

Cars, ships and buildings were swept up by a huge wall of water that was created when the earthquake, which measured at 8.9-magnitude, hit the north-east of the country.

BBC News website user Mike Hall from Hokkaido said: "It is very much like a swaying rolling motion, with jolts that really put the fear of God in you."

He added the earthquake felt a lot longer than other ones he has been through in the past.

Fellow contributor Yukiko, from Tokyo, described the experience as being "really scary", adding buildings were shaking with increasing violence.

Chartered Psychologist Professor Lorraine Sherr said people's lives are changed forever whenever a tsunami or an earthquake hits.

The expert noted: "Surviving, living through trauma, panic or injury affect people forever."

"The moment is emblazoned in their psyche and the cognitive impact, the questioning and the emotional trauma unfold - possibly forever."

"Japan was struck by one of the most severe earthquakes registered. The death toll is high - always too high."

"Psychologists would focus on the immediate reaction, would point to the importance of information, support and community connectedness in determining immediate coping and longer term adjustment."

"Few are left untouched. Humans live with expectations of normality, predictable day to day experiences and safety. Sudden catastrophes shake this expectation.

"The aftermath will be felt with emotional aftershocks as well as physical."