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MEDICAL DOCTOR: Coping With PTSD Can Be Doubly Tough, Especially For People Who Have Survived Two Major Hurricanes

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CHRISTIANSTED — Surviving a disaster can lead to psychological problems such as PTSD.

Surviving two disasters, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, can make matters even worse.

“The danger of these disasters lies not only in the tremendous loss of life and property, but also in the psychological toll they take on survivors,” said Dr. Alani Gregory. “When disaster strikes, mental health support should be a top priority. Amidst the chaos, though, it often isn’t.”

Gregory said that Irma and Maria “left thousands of people homeless, jobless, and without food, water, or electricity” and that the result can be psychological distress.

“Sadness, shock, anxiety, and fear are normal stress responses for those who live through a natural disaster,” Gregory said. “For many of them, these feelings fade away. For others, though, they persist, affecting their quality of life and ability to function. Survivors of natural disasters are at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.”

 

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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