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Understanding stress and trauma

Extreme weather manifests itself in the form of PTSD
Extreme weather manifests itself in the form of PTSD

Sana Ahmed, staff writer

May 23, 2011 — From damaged infrastructure to disrupted mental health, extreme weather has many repercussions. Mental health experts say stress trauma induced from severe weather shouldn't be taken lightly.

Alabama has been the hardest-hit tornado state this year so far
Alabama has been the hardest-hit tornado state this year so far

Tornadoes, floods and earthquakes have been extensively covered in the weather spotlight lately. At times, individuals neglect to acknowledge that such extreme weather patterns can take great psychological tolls on people's minds.

The onset of trauma starts when individuals realize they've lost unrecoverable possessions. This may include, cars, homes, jewelry, etc. Such losses can even be equated with the death of a loved one. According to psychological experts, trauma survivors go through a grieving process.

There are three main phases that eventually lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Impact Phase: In the first stage, people undergo multitudes of emotions. But it mainly consists of trying to salvage whatever's left from the tragedy. Their aim is to protect themselves and those closest to them.

Post-Disaster Phase: As people start to digest the physical devastation in their immediate environment, their feelings soon turn into sadness, anger and despair.

Recovery Phase: In this phase, people start to adjust to what's happened to them, their possessions and their loved ones. For some, recovery is slow if their losses are great. For others, recovery might come sooner is they haven't incurred enormous losses.

Post-Traumatic Stress Phase: The occurrence of this phase is based on personal circumstances. It can include a variety of feelings that range from flashbacks, being emotionally empty and having poor sleeping patterns. The affected person's mood is often dominated by feelings of fear and helplessness.

During a natural disaster, it's highly important to be aware of the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If a person continues to experience depressive and disturbing feelings, it's beneficial that they seek professional psychiatric help.

With files from CBC

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