Psychological recovery from the humanitarian disaster in Haiti will take much longer than other types of recovery, according to experts interviewed by the Voice of America and ABC News. Many residents of Haiti and those who have traveled to the country to aid in recovery efforts are expected to suffer extreme psychological hardship in the wake of the 7.0-magnitute earthquake that struck the island January 12.

Lorenzo Norris, MD, of George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC, told Voice of America that up to 10 percent of Haitians will likely have post-traumatic stress disorder and that many more will need counseling and treatment. “Your mind will not really come to rest unless you have a secure environment, you know where your next meal is coming from, and you feel safe or someone is accounting for you,” Norris said.

Norris advised loved ones to be on the alert for signs of trouble in survivors. These can include social withdrawal, persistent nightmares and unrelenting memories of the event.

Haiti’s survivors won’t be the only ones with lasting psychological and emotional scars. ABC News spoke to Carol North, MD, a psychiatrist with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dallas and an expert in post-disaster mental health, about the plight of those who’ve gone to Haiti to help recovery efforts.

“Doctors have an advantage in that they’re trained and experienced for trauma and they deal with death on a regular basis,” North said. But she added that even experienced aid workers from top-notch groups such as Doctors Without Borders could find themselves unprepared for this disaster. “[Their previous experience] may not prepare them for the massive scope of severe injury, the many, many dead bodies…and the people who are frantic. Nothing can prepare a human being for something that massive.”

The U.S. State Department has set up a toll-free number for Americans seeking information about family and loved ones in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747.

How You Can Help

The easiest way to get involved in the earthquake relief effort is by donating money. The Red Cross is accepting donations on its website, and you can also assist the agency via text messaging. By texting “HAITI” to “90999,” a $10 donation will be charged to your phone bill.

You may also donate to the William J. Clinton Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health and AmeriCares in addition to other groups spearheading relief efforts.