Super Storm Sandy and Stress Disorders

Super Storm Sandy and Stress Disorders

Surviving any significant trauma, much less enduring the devastation of super storm Sandy and its aftermath, can result in chronic emotional and physical responses to traumatic events of that magnitude that cause or magnify stress disorders. Historically it’s been called “combat fatigue”, “shell shocked”, “nervous breakdown” “burnt out”, “stressed out”, or just being overwhelmed. Today there are names for these stress disorders known as: ASD Acute Stress Disorder and PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Under normal circumstances 12 to 25% of patients presenting to primary care practices meet the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD. I suspect that that percentage will rise rapidly here on Long Island in the weeks and months to come. However, researchers had found in the past that PTSD stress disorders is the most frequently under-recognized and untreated anxiety disorder in primary care settings. They found that “the impact of untreated anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder on functioning was comparable to, or greater than, the effects of medical conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.1”

If primary care professionals under-recognize PTSD stress disorders you can be forgiven for not recognizing it yourself. The problem is that in times like these, with so much devastation around us, we tend to minimize the severity of our own feelings and may not recognize how serious it can be and how it is effecting our daily lives. It is often a loved one or friend that first notices the changes in personality or behavior.

Acute Stress Disorder [ASD] is when people develop serious symptoms while trying to deal with traumatic life events. ASD stress disorder symptoms usually go away after a few weeks. ASD stress disorders can develop into Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] which involves longer lasting symptoms that typically start within 3 months of a traumatic event and can become chronic, or the effects may not appear until months or years after the event. The symptoms include:

  • Getting upset by things that remind you of traumatic events.
  • Having nightmares or flashbacks.
  • Feeling down or becoming depressed or over emotional.
  • Suffering with aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease or seem to be lasting longer than expected.
  • Becoming easily fatigued, feeling overly tired, and having decreased energy.
  • Appetite and eating habit changes.
  • Feeling emotionally cut off or isolated from others, or not wanting to be with people that you may associate with the event(s).
  • Losing interest in things you used to care about.
  • Feeling tense, anxious, on edge, jittery, easily irritated, quick to anger.
  • Feeling panicky or increasingly feeling that something bad is going to happen again.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Having a hard time relating to or getting along with family or friends.
  • Consistent drinking or drug use to numb your feelings.
  • Considering harming yourself or others.
  • Working all the time to occupy your mind or working excessively or being driven to clean up, clean out, or rebuild.

As you can see stress disorders are serious conditions that can be complex. The important thing is to seek help and treat the symptoms early in the process. Therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of ASD and PTSD are:

  • “Talk therapy” / psychotherapy consultations with mental health professionals.
  • Acupuncture to balance the overactive nervous system, reduce anxiety, and improve mental clarity.
  • Physical therapy- for musculoskeletal symptoms associated with stress or injury.
  • Chiropractic manipulations for aches, pains, headaches, acute injuries and to reduce nerve interference.
  • Massage therapy- for muscular pain, relaxation, stress reduction.
  • Medications.
  • Pain management.

Exercise, putting aside time for relaxation, and sharing your emotions and feelings with others is helpful and an important part of the process of healing after an overwhelmingly stressful event like super storm Sandy. Volunteering can keep you from feeling isolated and help you reconnect with your neighbors and friends in the community.

If you have questions or think that you, a family member, or friend may be suffering from symptoms associated with Acute Stress Disorder or PTSD, contact your primary care provider for a referral to a mental health professional. If you have questions about any of the therapies above and would like to speak to one of our doctors or providers about their services call 516.599.3999

Dr. Michelli is 1973 Malverne H.S. graduate and is the facilities director at Malverne Health & Rehabilitation. Our staff includes:
Dr. Darla Lynch, MD Family Medicine & Traditional Chinese Medicine
Dr. Dmitriy Fuzaylov, MD Pain Management & Physiatry
Dr. Ronald A. Michelli, DC Chiropractic Care & Spinal Decompression
Dr. Alissa Mauceri, DPT Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Dr. Elizabeth K. Bello, DPT Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation
Barbara Chivvis, RN, LAc Accupuncture
Joyce Zafferullah, RN, LAc Accupuncture
Rochelle Schaeffer, LAc Accupuncture
Dawn Roth, LMT Massage Therapist
Leila Laudicino, LMT Massage Therapist
Delores Serpico, LMT Massage Therapist

We have assembled a multidisciplinary team to bring you quality comprehensive care at a single convenient location.
Together we are bringing you tomorrow’s safe and effective treatments today!

“WE HELP WHEN YOU HURT”®

REFERENCES:
1. Schonfeld WH, Verboncoeur CJ, Fifer SK, Lipschutz RC, Lubeck DP, Buesching DP. The functioning and well-being of patients with unrecognized anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder. J Affect Disord. 1997;43:105–9

Article by Dr. Ronald A. Michelli, DC 

Super Storm Sandy and Stress Disorders.

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