In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Northeast is struggling to return to normal. As of November 1, 2012, it was reported that nearly 650,000 people were still without power, looters were ravaging the streets, the U.N. Headquarters in New York was severely damaged, and the subway systems had been shut down, among other things.
Fortunately, most damage will be repaired. It may take time, but eventually all power will be restored, the U.N. building will be repaired, crime will be taken under control, and the subway systems will be operating at normal capacity. But what about the lingering psychological effects a storm of this power can have?
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) incidents often flare up after a traumatic event like Hurricane Sandy, even for people living far from the affected area. South Florida is a prime area for PTSD reactions due to its frequent close encounters with hurricanes. PTSD symptoms often appear immediately but, in some cases, may take a while to manifest. No matter when they appear, though, PTSD symptoms have been known to linger for long periods of time, during which this disorder can have a dramatic effect on the daily lives of its victims.
Some PTSD stress symptoms that hurricane victims might experience include:
- Trouble sleeping
- An acute stress reaction, such as being easily startled or frightened
- Trouble concentrating
- Flashbacks to the hurricane
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Unsettling dreams related to the storm
- Self-destructive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Angry outbursts
- Memory problems
- Avoidance behavior, such as keeping away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the storm
If you or someone you know is experiencing PTSD symptoms like these it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible because the sooner treatment begins the easier it is to keep the disorder under control and work toward relief. Delaying treatment of PTSD symptoms can mean that the PTSD can become so severe the victims could end up harming themselves or others.
Treatment for PTSD symptoms may include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or medication. Psychotherapy will allow victims the opportunity to discuss the hurricane and related events, while learning ways to manage their symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy will help people recognize and adjust trauma-related thoughts and beliefs in a more positive way. In some cases, medication may be used in combination with these other therapy techniques. Above all, therapy helps the person understand that a disorder like PTSD develops because of the extraordinary stress they have experienced, not because of their own weakness.
For more information on PTSD and for help and treatment of PTSD symptoms in the Boca Raton, Florida area, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorder. You can reach us by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.