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For Many, 'Superstorm' Sandy Could Take Toll on Mental Health
Date:11/1/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Some of the numbers are staggering: more than 75 Americans dead, thousands evacuated from their homes, millions left without power for days and billions of dollars in damage from "superstorm" Sandy.

Psychologists say the effect of all this sudden, violent loss on people's psyches will be powerful.

Not only those who suffered the loss of a loved one or a beloved home, but also people who just watched the constant storm coverage may be scared and unsettled, experts say.

"Sandy, like all natural disasters, is considered a criterion 'A1' stressor in the diagnoses of Acute Stress Disorder in the first month after the event and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), at least a month after the event," said Simon Rego, director, of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

"I'd expect many people to display symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder even if they did not directly experience effects of Sandy," he added. That's particularly true for people who had a loved one in danger or even just watched it on television, he said.

"This includes symptoms of anxiety, such as irritability, insomnia, restlessness, and dissociation such as feeling numb or detached from others, or feeling as if in a daze," Rego said.

In addition, "re-experiencing" symptoms, such as flashbacks and intrusive images, might occur for some who were closest to the destruction. Others may display symptoms of avoidance -- trying to avoid thinking or talking about the hurricane and avoiding certain people or places that remind them of the events.

Still, many of these effects are transient. "Fortunately, people are quite resilient and for many of these people, the symptoms will begin to abate on their own over time, as long as they have a healthy support system that enables them to talk about what ha
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