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The Colorado Floods Link to Trauma and Anxiety Disorders

Updated on September 21, 2013

Disasters Can Increase Depression, Anxiety and Trauma Symptoms

Disasters like floods, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. have been shown to increase incidents of depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following these events. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, incidents of depression, anxiety and PTSD increased 3 to 5 times (Fritscher, 2011).

Anxiety symptoms can include: constant worry, feeling on edge, specific fears that may seem irrational, a belief that something bad is going to happen if you don't do something a certain way, having to avoid specific activities that increase anxiety,

Depressive symptoms after disaster can include: isolation, sadness, sleeplessness, over sleeping, poor concentration, low energy, and fatigue.

PTSD symptoms can include any of the above and: frightened, disconnected, a sense of danger, painful memories that don't fade, feeling like you are re-living the event, and more.

Colorado Floods

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Practical Help

Right after a disaster like a flood, residents need immediate safety, resources to go on with daily life, and a path to recovery. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs - National Center For PTSD (URL below), recommends allowing the community to share their stories. In fact, a sense of community, rather than isolation, is an important part of feeling better. Reconnecting with family, schools, church, and the community in many cases reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD following a disaster.

Building a sense of "Community Resilience" can help an entire community to recover more quickly. Communities can be educated in resilience from local professionals familiar with these types of disasters. Community members can learn about common reactions to disasters, positive coping, how to support each other, and how to connect to local health and mental health providers.

(http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/pages/disaster_mental_health_treatment.asp)

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Treatment of Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD After a Disaster

Engaging early in treatment following a disaster can reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD following a disaster and in some cases prevent significant interruptions in school or work performance or deterioration in relationships.

Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression, and other evidenced based practices are proven in reducing the symptoms of these kinds of disorders.

My personal experience in treating residents after a disaster has been very positive in reducing their symptoms and allowing them to return to their lives without long term interruption. Treatment with community and family support allows residents to recover from these stressful events.

A Sense of Community Helps

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