PTSD in Kids After Natural Disasters

You’ve seen the photos and heard the horrific stories of people living in Houston, Florida, and the surrounding areas who suffered through the flooding associated with hurricanes. Families had to literally run and swim for their lives after the storm, carrying children, pets, and wearing only the clothes on their backs. You might feel a bit anxious just seeing the heartbreaking photographs or hearing the accounts on television. The people who lived through it, however, could be dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly abbreviated to PTSD.

What Is PTSD?

Often thought of as pertaining only to veterans of war, PTSD is a concern for anyone who has been through a traumatic event. This could include:

  • A severe car accident
  • An illness
  • A sexual assault
  • A natural disaster, such as a hurricane or major flooding

Mental health professionals saw people develop PTSD after Hurricane Katrina hit the southeastern United States in 2005, and it’s expected that they will see another surge of the condition as the floodwaters recede from Harvey and Irma.

Symptoms of PTSD

The symptoms of the disorder can range from mild to severe. Those affected by PTSD due to the flooding in Texas and Florida could start experiencing symptoms now or they might begin noticing signs months or even years down the road. Some of the symptoms of PTSD include

  • Flashbacks, bad memories, and nightmares. Victims might relive the event.
  • Trying hard not to remember the event. Someone affected by PTSD might distract themselves or avoid certain locations so they don’t remember.
  • Negative feelings like guilt or a sense of apathy. Those with the condition might not enjoy the things they once did.
  • Trouble sleeping, a sensitive startle reflex, and other signs of hyperarousal.

Considerations After a Disaster

If you are helping people who have recently gone through a disaster such as a hurricane, flood, or fire, be aware of the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Keep in mind that symptoms will not necessarily present themselves right away. If you notice the signs of PTSD in a friend or family member, it’s possible that it was caused by the traumatic events months or years after it ends. Suggest that the person contact a mental health professional. Treatments for the condition can include psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication.

Awareness of the signs of PTSD will help victims of natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes to know to seek help promptly and experience some relief. Don’t be afraid to broach this sensitive topic with the people you are in contact with who have gone through traumatic events. Paradigm has taken the initiative to set aside scholarship beds for those impacted by the storm. Contact us at 855-780-TEEN or for more details.

Further Reading