The Storm After The Storm: Disaster’s Mental Toll

We are almost two month past the most horrible natural disasters of this century so far–Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma–as well as major earthquakes all over the world reeking havoc with daily lives everywhere.  There is a storm after all the events are gone that very few are addressing and that is the toll to the mental health of people who have survived such a terrible event.

PTSD is real and it can damage your life if left untreated.  People with PTSD have trouble functioning, their thought run in a circle, and they don’t know what to do to stop them.

We as a nation are not doing enough–or anything–to address the mental health fallout that these horrible events have caused to millions of people.  Please read this article and if any of this fits, reach out for the help you deserve and need.


The Storm After The Storm: Disaster’s Mental Toll

“We got the house ready,” says Mendez, a 68-year-old English professor from Cutler Bay, about 30 miles south of downtown Miami. The family put up the hurricane shutters, wrapped paintings and other valuables, and moved the patio furniture inside.Suddenly, however, Maria ran out of the house.”I opened the gate and started running,” she says.

Her husband, Alfredo, and daughter Ana led her back to the house, calmed her down, and the family safely evacuated.

In hindsight, Maria knows what was behind her need to escape. Irma had triggered a reliving of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when they lost their house, cars, and boat. During that storm, the family had holed up in the house, terrified as the bathroom ceiling collapsed and the roof blew away.

“We were sure we were going to die,” she remembers. The psychologistwho diagnosed her posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after Hurricane Andrew had said to expect unusual reactions when disaster strikes.

With seemingly endless recent disasters — hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean; wildfires out West; and now, major earthquakes in Mexico — the immediate concern of the ones affected is survival: eating, drinking, and finding a place to sleep.

But soon after, the mental health fallout can start.

What’s ‘Normal’ After Disaster?

Experts notice a pattern of mental health symptoms after disasters, says Yuval Neria, PhD, professor of medical psychology and director of the PTSD treatment and research program at Columbia University Medical Center. “Usually what we see first is the anxiety, fear, the difficulty in concentrating and functioning,” he says.

Read the rest of this article here.


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