Thursday, August 26, 2010

Katrina Five Years On, and PTSD

If more had been listening, and caring, in these past decades, we would have many more tools, researched and well tested, as to treating our military and the PTSD of occupations {we also might have avoided these wars of choice knowing the coming results}as well as understanding more and being able to help all in the civilian population that experience traumatic events and suffer usually in silence and have often been misdiagnosed!

The Civilian side related to PTSD that also exists and is often overlooked. It doesn't just happen to soldiers in Wars, but also the Civilians in those occupations as well as Civilians who live through their individual or community trauma's!!

Katrina's toll includes rise in suicide, mental illness

Angelyn Bush. right, listens as Jace Ladner, 7, of Necaise Crossing, Mississippi, talks about Hurricane Katrina at Camp Noah in June 2006. The camp was an effort to provide children with a way to work through their Katrina experience. | John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/MCT

August 26, 2010 - The last five years have been a mental health roller coaster for many among the Mississippi Gulf Coast's post-Hurricane Katrina population.

Suicides are up since Katrina hit on Aug. 29, 2005. More people are seeking treatment for substance abuse, therapists say, and post-traumatic stress disorder is on the rebound.

Though suicide numbers were higher in 2004 than in the years immediately after the storm, they have climbed in the years that followed. In Harrison County, the largest county on the Mississippi Coast, the number of people who committed suicide has increased since the storm from 30 in 2005 to 32 in 2006, 36 in 2007 and 44 in 2008.

The number dropped to 25 in 2009, then accelerated by mid-2010 to 23, almost matching last year's total, based on records by Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove.

Because of the impact of Katrina, people haven't gotten their lives back, said Dr. Sherman Blackwell, the executive director of Singing River Services in Pascagoula, which serves Jackson and George counties.


Across time the stressors that trigger PTSD continue. Three years into the area's hurricane recovery, the economy plummeted. Just when that was looking up, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened, followed a little more than a month later by the uncertainty of another hurricane season.

"Think about PTSD like the water level in a river," said University of Mississippi Medical Center researcher Dr. Scott Coffey, who was part of a research team that undertook a two-year study published in 2008 on Katrina-related PTSD in lower Mississippi.

"If the river is running high and there is a rainstorm, the river may flood because there is very little room for error," he said. "That's kind of how it is with PTSD. Your stress is high, then when a little rain comes along, it goes over its bank. With PTSD the river is constantly running high."

"With the current stresses going on," Coffey said, "it may make it more likely they will continue to have PTSD. Predictors include financial stressors and significant social stressors, which are particularly relevant right now for folks on the Coast." {read more}

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