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Hurricane Harvey may trigger PTSD in Katrina survivors

08-28-17 Category: Mental Health

Hurricane Harvey may trigger PTSD in Katrina survivors

Hurricane Harvey has lashed the Texas coastline, killing at least two people and causing mass destruction of properties. Everyone is in a state of shock trying to come to terms with the tropical storm. After the storm, flood water gushed in, forcing people to take shelter on rooftops. There is an absolute chaos in the region, leaving the residents tensed and anxious.

Apart from Texas, Harvey is also threatening to wreak havoc in Louisiana. The storm has evoked painful memories of Hurricane Katrina that devastated several places along the Gulf Coast from central Florida to Texas 12 years ago. Experts believe that Harvey may trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Katrina survivors, especially those who are prone to the condition.

The situation is very real and one should not take it lightly, said St. Tammany Parish Coroner Charles Preston. “Not only for us but for our friends in the Baton Rouge area, who experienced catastrophic weather barely a year ago, a storm threat like this one can trigger PTSD and related feelings,” Preston said in a press release.

It is natural to experience anxiety in times of distress and natural calamities. However, for individuals suffering from PTSD, it could take a different meaning altogether. People watching news coverage and discovering large-scale damage will undoubtedly feel the pangs. Subdued symptoms of PTSD are triggered during such natural disasters. Psychiatrist Allen Frances said, “If you’ve ever lived through a hurricane, it is perfectly understandable for this to trigger past things.”

Individuals who continue to experience anxiety after a stressful situation for longer than usual may suffer from PTSD. Those people may get tensed or frightened even while they do not have an actual threat. Hence, sufferers of Katrina may relive the same trauma when they watch news related to Hurricane Harvey on television. They might go through the same feelings, which they had experienced more than a decade ago.

PTSD may be chronic

There could be a host of symptoms when one experiences stressful environment. However, not every sign of worry qualifies as PTSD. For symptoms to qualify as PTSD, they have to last for close to a month and should be severe enough. While some people take six months to recover, others may take longer than this. In some people, PTSD may become chronic. One should look for following symptoms in a person to qualify as PTSD:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma at least once
  • Avoidance of people, places and activities that remind the trauma
  • Increased arousal such as difficulty sleeping, and getting easily irritated
  • Exhibiting mood swings at least twice

All the above symptoms should be consistent for over a month to be declared as PTSD. If one shows any of these symptoms, then treatment becomes imperative. Symptoms of PTSD can be managed with timely treatment. If a person is grappling with PTSD, he/she should immediately see a psychiatrist for treatment.

One of the leading PTSD treatment centers in the United States, Sovereign Health offers a comprehensive treatment for all behavioral health problems. Our facilities spread across the country provide an evidence-based post-traumatic stress disorder treatment to the patients. If you or a loved one is grappling with PTSD or any other mental condition, call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with one of our representatives to know more about our rehab centers.

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