Hurricane Harvey Relief
29 August

Psychological Impact Following Hurricane Harvey

Category: Behavioral Health Services

By: Dr. Chad Lemaire, Medical Director of Behavioral Health

Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey can lead to significant stress and anxiety. Many of us will experience a wide range of emotions, whether we’re directly impacted by the loss of a loved one or a home, or indirectly by experiencing such a tragedy hitting our great city.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Shock, sadness, grief, anger, and helplessness are all perfectly normal. What’s important is to talk about how we feel with our family, friends, and support networks. We are in this together.

Here are some recommendations directly from the American Psychiatric Association to consider after a major disaster.

  1. Keep informed about new information and developments, but avoid overexposure to news rebroadcasts of the events. Be sure to use credible sources of information to avoid speculation and rumors.
  2. Learn what local resources are available to aid those affected by the tragedy and be prepared to share this information.
  3. If you feel anxious, angry or depressed, you are not alone. Talk to friends, family or colleagues who likely are experiencing the same feelings.
  4. If you have children, keep open dialogues with them regarding their fears and the traumatic event. Let them know that in time, the tragedy will pass. Don’t minimize the danger, but talk about your ability to cope with tragedy and get through the ordeal.
  5. Feelings of anxiety and depression following a traumatic event are natural. If these symptoms continue, even after order has been restored, or if these feelings begin to overwhelm you, seek the advice of a psychiatrist in your community.

Legacy Community Health is here for you and your families. We will help Houston get through this.

Additional resources:

American Psychiatric Association – Coping after a disaster (this link includes common reactions and tips for children and adults): https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/coping-after-disaster-trauma

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (includes Facts for Families fact sheets and Frequently Asked Questions about disasters):

http://www.aacap.org/aacap/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/Disaster_Resource_Center/Home.aspx

When terrible things happen. What you may experience:

http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/pfa/english/appendix_e3_when_terrible_things_happen.pdf

Alcohol, medication, and drug use after a disaster:

http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/pfa/english/appendix_e90_tips_for_substance_use.pdf

What You Should Know About Floods & Impact on Children and Families:

http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/natural-disasters/floods

What You Should Know About Hurricanes & Impact on Children and Families:

http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/natural-disasters/hurricanes