Mental issues could follow Harvey


While Harvey flood waters have receded, survivors are still rebuilding. Some of us are still displaced, doing repairs, dealing with different work or school schedules.

Mental health experts warn that long-term, hidden psychological tolls could build up. It might take months, even years, before we know the mental effect Harvey has on Texans.

Assistant Professor Baylor College of Medicine Baylor University Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale said it's going to be a long time before life is back to normal.

“This isn’t that you just lose your house. This a financial burden, an emotional burden, a physical burden. I mean, there’s a lot of things that are compounded when people deal with this sort of, or this level of trauma,” said McIngvale.

She said be on the lookout for long-term psychological injuries lasting more than a month.

“When you’re triggered, when you’re feeling anxious, you’re not going through these negative coping tools. You’re not isolating, you’re not using substances, you’re not avoiding, right? That instead, you’re trying to be present, be mindful and surround yourself with people who you enjoy and kind of continue moving forward the best that you can” said McIngvale.

While everyone is different, McIngvale said if intense disruption or depression lasts more than a month, look to get help.

Be aware of triggers--like when it rains, or if it floods. She reminds people that anxiety lives in the past or future. You're in control of the present.

Texans tend to have trouble asking for help. She said it's important to know that it's okay to help ask for burden to be taken off of you.

Mental health services were set up at every Houston storm shelter.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states mental illness and substance abuse aren’t just secondary problems-they are the primary long-term effect of natural disasters.

One CDC study cited estimated the cost of treating even the short-term effects of anxiety disorders at more than $42 billion annually.

In New Orleans, doctors are still treating thousands for the psychological devastation of Katrina.

Professor Ken Sakauye reported "Katrina brain" for survivors struggled with short-term memory loss and cognitive impairment

Significant trauma from post 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, wildfires, tornadoes, earthquakes and now Harvey, can push people over the edge.


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