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After the flood cleanup, the trauma may linger

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Timothy D. Easley/AP
FR43398 AP
Bonnie Combs, right, hugs her 10-year-old granddaughter Adelynn Bowling watches as her property becomes covered by the North Fork of the Kentucky River in Jackson, Ky., Thursday, July 28, 2022. Flash flooding and mudslides were reported across the mountainous region of eastern Kentucky, where thunderstorms have dumped several inches of rain over the past few days. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

As people in eastern Kentucky try to piece back together their lives following deadly floods, many may ignore warning signs and symptoms of trauma and PTSD. This week Dr. Greg talks about the mental health component of disaster cleanup with UK HealthCare’s Gray Manis; licensed clinical social worker and assistant professor of psychiatry.

Here's more on the warning signs of disaster-related trauma and PTSD courtesy of UK Now:

Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop when a person experiences a shocking, scary or dangerous event. These events can include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, combat and various other forms of violence.

The UK HealthCare Outpatient Child and Adult Psychiatry Clinic has seen an overall increase in anxiety disorders associated primarily with the COVID-19 pandemic, between issues with infection, the strain of lockdown and fears of reintegrating into the world with work and school. Many of the new PTSD cases at UK HealthCare are also associated with first responders and health care workers due to the recent influx of critically ill patients.

Most people experience a range of reactions after a traumatic event, but many recover from the symptoms naturally. The diagnosis of PTSD occurs when the symptoms become chronic.

To be diagnosed with PTSD, an adult must have all of the following for at least one month:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom.
  • At least one avoidance symptom.
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms.
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms.

PTSD is an often stigmatized and/or misunderstood mental health issue in which symptoms can occur for months or years after the traumatic event. Raising awareness can help both individuals and professionals discover ways to identify and manage PTSD symptoms.

Severe cases of PTSD can lead people to feel like there is no hope. If you or someone you love are in crisis and thinking about suicide, know that there are resources available to help. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Veterans Crisis Line connects service members and veterans in crisis, as well as their family members and friends, with qualified Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat or text messaging service. Dial 1-800-273-8255 and press 1 to talk to someone or send a text message to 838255 to connect with a VA responder.