Tropical Storm Isaac Raises Concerns of PTSD

Any extremely stressful and anxiety provoking experience can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We normally affiliate the disorder with soldiers returning home from the horrors of war, but with Tropical Storm Isaac hitting the previously ravaged areas left by Hurricane Katrina, it’s no wonder that survivors are breaking out into cold sweats.

PTSD can leave victims feeling overwhelmed, disoriented, and often petrified. Others may have severe mood swings, suffer from lack of focus and sleep, and generally have a difficult time functioning in society.

These are completely normal responses to trauma. It’s the aftermath of the body’s fight or flight response. In the moment, the body pushes the traumatic thoughts to the side so that the brain can react to the serious situation at hand. But after the initial shock has subsided, all those emotions that were pushed out of sight come rushing back.

These emotions can remain hidden for a time till they are triggered by a similar situation or event that brings back memories of the past. Many sufferers of PTSD also experience nightmares and flashbacks. These individuals can even have symptoms that persist years after the initial event.

Interestingly, in addition to triggering symptoms in those who lived through the event, the disorder can also affect others who were not directly involved. Volunteers and disaster relief workers as well as family of those affected can also exhibit signs of PTSD.

These types of weather catastrophes leave mental scars that last a lifetime. People lose their homes and the source of all their memories. Family members and pets can be separated, or worse, suffer injury or death. Many individuals are out of work as natural disasters devastate everything in their path. With nothing left to designate what once was, the Red Cross and other relief workers have had to use GPS in order to find their way and help victims.

The effects of PTSD can be as devastating as the event that caused it. But with professional help, suffers can learn coping skills and get the support they need to pick up the pieces.