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Extreme weather and emotional turmoil

Alabama has been the hardest-hit
Alabama has been the hardest-hit

Sana Ahmed, staff writer

May 9, 2011 — Extreme weather survivors learn how to deal with post traumatic stress disorder.

U.S. underwent one of the worst tornado outbreaks
U.S. underwent one of the worst tornado outbreaks

When severe weather hits, it doesn't only damage roads and buildings. It can also have huge implications on a person's psychological well-being.

Because of the transition from normal life to abnormal events, it's only natural to feel trauma. This can include bad dreams or anxiety.

Recently, parts of the United States were battered with powerful tornadoes. Property was indeed destroyed, but more importantly, hundreds of lives were lost. The combination of these factors has left behind a trail of emotional turmoil.

Those that came out unscathed are left wondering how to rebuild their lives. Now, that the initial jolt is over, these survivors have to contend with a traumatic past, a shaky reality and hopefully, a promising future.

In the coming months, psychiatrists say that storm survivors will most likely undergo a variety of emotional states such as, grief, anger, anxiety and helplessness.

“The first step in the immediate period is just to regain a sense of safety and stick with the basics,” says Dr. Lisa Andermann, a psychiatrist at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. “So, food, shelter, family support, making sure that people know you’re safe and they’re safe and that kind of communication and immediate, very practical support is the most important thing to do after a disaster.”

This is precisely why a team of therapists have been sent over to the hardest-hit state of Alabama. To better deal with such issues, the teams have set up emergency shelters that specifically deal with mental health.

The psychiatric crews are also heading into devastated neighborhoods in order to help those who lost loved ones. It is particularly difficult when they are also dealing with destroyed homes and lost possessions.

Now, the greatest task that lies ahead is knowing how to rebuild lives and wrecked infrastructure.

With files from Associated Press

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