Health & Science

Harvey Aftermath, Trauma Could Worsen Holiday Blues This Year

Experts urge others to reach out to people who were displaced by Harvey, be good listeners and include them in their holiday celebrations

Research shows that after Hurricane Katrina, more than half of the local residents in New Orleans suffered from mental health issues, and about one-third experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.
Research shows that after Hurricane Katrina, more than half of the local residents in New Orleans suffered from mental health issues, and about one-third experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.

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This year, the holiday blues could be worse for Harvey survivors, in a season that already can bring depression, anxiety and sadness for as much as one third of the population..

People who've gone through Harvey — or watched their family, friends or neighbors suffer from the mega storm — should be on extra alert this holiday season for warning signs of those holiday blues.

Those signs include anxiety, irritability, being withdrawn or tired, according to Dr. Asim Shah, who is the executive vice chair in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine.

He pointed to research from Hurricane Katrina, that showed one third of people in the New Orleans area suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and more than half experienced some mental health issues.

“When you see your families and friends and when you're not able to do your routine things, then you get even more trauma and you get more traumatized and even more depressed and more anxious,” Shah said.

But Shah said that being aware is the first step to coping. He added that people can also talk with someone they trust and spend time with people who are supportive.

“So your social support is the key here, because if you are with people are a good resource for you, who support you, you will get better quickly,” he said.

Shah urged others to reach out to people who were displaced by Harvey, be good listeners and include them in their holiday celebrations.

“Be a non-judgmental good listener, because when you listen to a person and you are non-judgmental you can help them more than not,” he explained. “But when you give them judgmental advice, they shut down and they don't talk to you.”

 

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