Dealing with PTSD from natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey

When people think of post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, many relate it to combat veterans or incidents like robbery or a sudden death. But natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey can also be a trigger of PTSD.

When people think of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, many relate it to combat veterans or incidents like robbery or a sudden death. 

But natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey can also be a trigger of PTSD.

Harvey may be over but for many affected their problems may just be beginning. 

"I have seen people that suffer from acute distress or PTSD after these disasters. It's real and it can be very problematic for the people who are involved," said Clinical Trials of Texas psychiatrist Dr. Harry Croft.

It could be especially problematic for children, even if they weren't directly impacted by Harvey. 

"Kids see something on TV and to them, especially a younger child, it's happening right in their own living room," Dr. Croft said.

"Fortunately most kids are pretty resilient and they bounce back pretty well once they get settled, but you are going to have those people and those children who do struggle," said pediatrician and Bexar County Medical Society President Dr. Leah Jacobson.

There are four clusters that come with PTSD:

  1. Unwanted recall like nightmares and flashbacks
  2. Conscious avoidance, such as not talking about the storm or even avoiding it on television
  3. Involves negative thoughts and emotions, including not wanting to socialize
  4. Hyper arousal, like being angry or irritable and having trouble sleeping

"The symptoms of PTSD may occur the next day or a few days later. We don't call that PTSD. We call that an acute stress reaction until it lasts a month," Dr. Croft added.

If those symptoms last that long, doctors said you should seek help right away. 

"Whether if it's with a crisis counselor or they are back in school, even the school counselors may be able to talk to them about things," Dr. Jacobson said.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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