St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Preston: Hurricane Anxiety, PTSD Are Real Concerns

St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston

LACOMBE, LA – St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said the threat of Hurricane Harvey could trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in some who survived Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago, and that such symptoms should not be taken lightly.

         "Although Harvey is not currently expected to directly impact St. Tammany or the New Orleans metro area, it is a nearby threat," Preston said.  "Not only for us but for our friends in the Baton Rouge area, who experienced catastrophic weather barely a year ago, a storm threat like this one can trigger PTSD and related feelings. This is not to be taken lightly.

         "There are normal stressors associated with Hurricane Season and specific threats," Preston said. "Making sure prescriptions are filled, cars have full gas tanks, and other basic concerns can be stressful in and of themselves.  But for those with PTSD – much of which went undiagnosed and untreated after Katrina 12 years ago – the anxiety can be more dangerous.

         "Hyper vigilance, excessive fear or anxiety, denial, bursts of rage and even self-isolation can all be symptoms of PTSD," Preston said. "If you're feeling it, that's OK. It's normal.  But reach out for help – to a trusted family member, a clergyperson, a counselor, or even a helpline such as 211 or free text service such as 741-741.  If you know someone who may be experiencing these symptoms, assess for yourself whether it's OK to approach him or her and suggest counseling.  If that's not workable, call us, or use one of those other tools available to everyone.

         "In no case should someone with these feelings or symptoms feel 'crazy' or alone. It's normal, it's treatable, and it's OK to talk about it.  Hurricane Harvey probably won't touch us with severe impact, but extended news coverage of what it may do can be just as much a trigger for those who are suffering.  Reach out.  We're here to help."

         For more information about hurricane-related PTSD


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