Whatever the source of the problem, some people with PTSD repeatedly relive the trauma in the form of nightmares and disturbing recollections during the day. They may also experience sleep problems, depression, feeling detached or numb, or being easily startled. They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy and have trouble feeling affectionate. They may feel irritable, more aggressive than before, or even violent:
PTSD can occur at any age, including childhood. The disorder can be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. Symptoms may be mild or severe--people may become easily irritated or have violent outbursts. In severe cases they may have trouble working or socializing. Symptoms - Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
They report ongoing mental health stresses among all levels of the population, severe fatigue setting in among caregivers, a health care system that continues to be ignored by politicians in Baton Rouge and Washington—all resulting in a city that is demonstrating widespread mental and emotional disorders similar to PTSD and a variety of complicating physical issues.
In short: New Orleans is getting sicker, fast.
African-American ministers, accustomed to providing spiritual guidance to their congregations, are helping members cope with serious mental and emotional disorders nearly a year after Hurricane Katrina hit.
"It is, at times, overwhelming," said Rev. Larry Campbell, assistant pastor of Israelite Baptist Church in the Central City neighborhood. He has counseled worshipers with substance abuse problems and suicidal thoughts, referring some to mental health professionals, when possible.
"There's a sense of hopelessness as it relates to, 'When are we going to get this city back to where it was?"'
New Orleans was a social service nightmare before Katrina. It's mental health infrastructure was likely underfunded like many other inner city services. But the results of the devastating trauma of Katrina spawned flood, people are stressed beyond their ability to cope. Psychiatric beds have shrunk by 80% while many professionals have abandoned the city along with half it it's residents.
It's often those without alternatives who are left to return, to conditions worse than they ever were.
…the most serious health problems directly attributable to the storm have been mental, not physical. In the four months between Aug. 29 and the end of 2005, the Orleans Parish coroner’s office “conservatively” estimates that the suicide rate tripled.”
"People with pre-existing conditions that are made worse by the stress of living here after the storm. "There is no doubt in my mind that Katrina is still killing our residents." Orleans Parish coroner Dr. Frank Minyard said this week.
We're about to head full-force into the hurricane season, and invariably the country will spend a few moments revisiting the stricken Gulf Coast region, but particularly New Orleans. …We'll hear questions about levies, rebuilding and the city's economy."
Perhaps it is no surprise that post-traumatic stress disorder is 10 times higher in New Orleans than in the general public.
"We lost the whole mental health infrastructure in the storm.” "It was inadequate before. Then we lost the clinics, the hospitals, the staff and the administration.". Compounding the problem: More people are suffering from mental ailments.
You may find upon the reading of these articles that some of them are nearly 2 years old - the information contained in them is not only prescient but relevant to the situation on the ground in New Orleans.
Churches battling post-Katrina depression
Nagin demands state provide mental health services
Post-Katrina report: Mental health system deficient in Louisiana PTSD Among New Orleans Residents
New Orleans still suffering from Katrina
Nurses Ask: Does New Orleans Suffer from PTSD? - Local nurses sound public health alarm on conditions in city’s hospitals and clinics, long-term effect on residents, caregivers
Sinking in New Orleans
A City in Crisis - Mental Health in New Orleans - DAILY KOS
Post-Katrina depression triples New Orleans suicide rate
Mental Health Crisis in New Orleans Worsens
New Orleans Mental Health Infrastructure Is Overwhelmed
TOWARDS THE SOLUTION:
Program aiming to fill health care worker shortage
Tuition-free training offered at Delgado
UPDATE August 15, 2007