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Published: October 10, 2022

Natural Disasters and the Effects on our Mental Health

Recently Floridians experienced a major natural disaster when Hurricane Ian made landfall first in southwest Florida and then through Central Florida before exiting the state on the east coast. Ian was a category 4 hurricane and reportedly only 2 mph away from becoming a category 5. Massive losses were sustained including the loss of lives, homes, businesses, coastal properties, and financial income.

Natural disasters can often lead to acute trauma and, in some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of PTSD so that you can seek help if necessary. Some common symptoms include:

- Feeling disconnected from others

- Difficulty concentrating

- Increased anxiety and stress

- flashbacks or intrusive thoughts about the event

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to reach out for help. There are many resources available to support you through this difficult time.

Here are some helpful coping tips:

-- Reach out to your support network of family and friends

-- Seek professional help if you are struggling to cope

-- Avoid numbing your feelings with drugs or alcohol

-- Practice self-care by getting adequate rest, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly

-- Give yourself time to grieve and process the event

-- Create a routine to help you feel more grounded and stable

-- Seek out positive distractions such as listening to music, reading, or spending time outdoors

There are therapeutic techniques that can aid in the healing process at an increased rate. Techniques such as Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) aid in the reduction to elimination of the physically distressing bodily sensations and the intrusive negative visual images of the traumatic event. The negative visual images are changed and replaced by the individual to allow a sense of empowerment by tapping into their strengths and problem-solving abilities. As a Master ART therapist, I have personally witnessed individuals who have struggled for years from their past trauma(s) to subsequently having the complete resolve of emotional and physical distress in as little as one to three sessions. The length of time it takes a person to achieve resolution of their distress varies individually. For more information on ART, please visit the website,

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of acute trauma or PTSD, please reach out for help. There are many resources available to support you through this difficult time. Thank you for reading my blog post! I hope that it was helpful and informative for you.

For more information on acute trauma and PTSD, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website at

Sources: American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Posttraumatic stress disorder: diagnosis and epidemiology, comorbidity and social consequences, biology and treatment

What is Accelerated Resolution Therapy?

By Renee Cherowitz, MS, CHt, QS, LMHC
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