Studies have shown that natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey have devastating effects on the mental wellbeing of those directly—and even indirectly—impacted. Problems like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression are not uncommon. As a society, how do we deal with mental anguish during these challenging encounters?
Dr. Marmar points to three levels of emotional response to natural disasters: those directly affected through loss of property or even loss of a loved one; those who are directly impacted, but to a lesser degree, such as people in neighboring communities to those directly impacted; and those who view a natural disaster over the media or the internet.
“If people don’t recover quickly from mental health issues related to a natural disaster, they should seek out treatment,” Dr. Marmar says. But he also adds that “most people who suffer from any of these illnesses following disasters are resilient and will usually recover.”
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