Hurricanes' Toll on Mental Health Will Linger

From Drugs.com - September 14, 2017

Hurricanes' Toll on Mental Health Will Linger

THURSDAY, Sept. 14, 2017 -- Even after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma disappears, survivors could still suffer from mental stress caused by the massive storms, experts say.

"Everybody who has been in a disaster is changed permanently in some way. You never forget it," said Dr. Carol North, a crisis psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

North has studied thousands of survivors of major disasters, such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the Oklahoma City bombings.

"Even though people are permanently changed by going through a disaster, they need not be damaged by their experience," she said in a medical center news release.

Many people experience anxiety, lack of sleep, nightmares or irritability after a traumatic event, but most recover within weeks to months. However, some people may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and take years, or even decades, to recover.

PTSD occurs in about 4 percent of Americans who go through a natural disaster, according to North, but that rate can be as high as one-third among those most affected by the worst disasters.

North outlined some coping techniques for people with short-term symptoms of mental stress after a disaster. These techniques include:


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