"The Psychological Effects of Hurricane Katrina."

Essay by DawnP86High School, 12th gradeA, October 2005

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Hurricane Katrina is gone. It ripped up homes, lives and hearts. But the disaster left in its wake continues to evolve. The psychological results of this natural disaster continue to spread through both survivors and witnesses alike. Humans I've witnessed so far seem to be remarkably resilient beings. But the trauma of a disaster pushes them to their limits. People often experience strong and unpleasant emotional and physical responses to disasters as we have seen in the past; The World Wars and 9/11 for example.

After reading a few articles the most common normal feelings surrounding this disaster seem to include panic, feeling out of control, anger, despair, anxiety, re-experiencing the event (flashbacks), numbing and avoidance of difficult memories or feelings, loss of trust and disorientation. If these reactions last for more than a month, however, then a person may have Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health disorder that typically develops in a small percentage of people after exposure to an event in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened.

People with PTSD may repeatedly re-experience a traumatic event through flashback episodes, nightmares, or frightening and intrusive thoughts, especially when something reminds them of the trauma. Recently scientists have developed effective treatments for PTSD. These include medications, cognitive, behavioral, psychosocial treatments and talk therapies that teach people to manage upsetting and unwanted thoughts as well as physical symptoms. On the other hand, there may also be unusually strong feelings of brotherhood, generosity, and caring for others. All of these powerful emotions were likely to surface in the days following the disaster. Those who lost loved ones will experience terrible grief. With time, this usually eases.

I have found the single most important thing that lets people cope with a disaster is helping or getting help...