Hurricanes are some of the most destructive natural disasters in history. An example of this type of disaster is Hurricane Sandy. This disaster occurred during the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and it is the second most expensive hurricane disaster in the history of United States. The damages associated with Hurricane Sandy included $75 billion in finances and 233 fatalities. Other problems associated with hurricane disasters include widespread power losses, flooding, food shortages, and human displacement.
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Consequently, the aftermath of the hurricane is expected to bring about posttraumatic stress disorder (PSTD) symptoms among the millions of affected victims. For instance, a hurricane disaster can be the cause of life-altering effects including life endangerment, loss of life and property, and disruption of livelihoods. There are several PSTD-related interventions that could help survivors to deal with the resulting psychological trauma. This easy outlines three possible early PSTD-related interventions that might contribute to the stabilization of survivors in the context of a hurricane disaster.
One possible early intervention involves taking care of the physical welfare by the victims, their loved ones, rescue workers, and other responders (Ford, Russo, & Mallon, 2007). In the event of a hurricane, it is important for the people who are involved to meet their needs as social groups as opposed to taking an ‘everyone for him/herself’ approach. This collective approach works because it combines strengths and lessens the impacts of a disaster.
When families and other social groups come together to meet the needs of each other, it is possible to notice individuals who are displaying PTSD symptoms. However, when victims are involved in individual quests they are often too busy to notice PSTD tendencies (Rogers, Lewis, & Subich, 2002). All those who are involved in a hurricane disaster should make time to be there for their families and friends in the critical period immediately after a disaster has struck. In the course of being there for others, there are signs and symptoms to watch out for including depression, anxiety, and nightmares. In case any these signs are present in any affected individuals, it is important to seek further assistance.
Another early PSTD-intervention involves counseling in the form of psychological debriefing. This intervention works by “attempting to intervene in the immediate aftermath of trauma in an effort to assist coping and reduce further distress” (Kearns, Ressler, Zatzick, & Rothbaum, 2012).
Psychological debriefing includes a session of about three hours, and it is only effective within the first ten days of a disaster. When it is effective, psychological debriefing reduces the effects of victims’ emotional and physical reactions. This form of intervention also works because it ensures that victims are in touch with their feelings from the onset of their PSTD ordeal. Moreover, this intervention might set up grounds for further psychological interventions in relation to a disaster. Debriefing might have a positive effect on survivor’s guilt, anger, anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies.
The third intervention involves instituting pharmacological treatments for victims. Although this is often considered a last resort intervention, it can be effective in alleviating the impact of trauma and acting as a set up for other preventive strategies. Pharmacological treatments work because they limit victims’ physiological and psychological reactivity when they are administered within 6 hours of hurricane trauma (James & Gilliland, 2012). Hurricane victims can also benefit from medication that interferes with their memory reactions.
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Early PSTD-related interventions are important because they determine the effectiveness of continued interventions. For instance, in hurricane disasters where responders arrive late, it has been found that PSTD cases are more severe among victims. Hurricanes often hit victims with unprecedented force and this makes early interventions important. Early PSTD-related interventions in hurricane scenarios include social, pharmacological, and psychological approaches.
Ford, J. D., Russo, E. M., & Mallon, S. D. (2007). Integrating treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder. Journal of Counseling and Development: JCD, 85(4), 475.
James, R., & Gilliland, B. (2012). Crisis intervention strategies. New York, NY: Nelson Education.
Kearns, M. C., Ressler, K. J., Zatzick, D., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2012). Early interventions for PTSD: A review. Depression and anxiety, 29(10), 833-842.
Rogers, J. R., Lewis, M. M., & Subich, L. M. (2002). Validity of the Suicide Assessment Checklist in an emergency crisis center. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80(4), 493-502.