Hurricanes Mental Impact Could Linger for Many Months
Local clinical psychologist, Dr. Vicki Panaccione in Melbourne, said she has seen a higher number of children (needing treatment) since the two most recent hurricanes pummeled Brevard (County).
“But parents by and large, have been doing a good job reassuring children they’re safe or turning evacuations into an adventure,” she said.
Still, parents and children need to get back into an ordinary routine as quickly as possible, Panaccione stressed.
“If children see mom and dad get back to a normal routine, it’s easier on them,” she said. “Don’t voice any (lingering) fears to your children.”
Signs all is not well may crop up over time, however.
After a couple of weeks, “where life seems normal again,” she said, some children may continue to suffer from persistent anxiety and nightmares.
“Look for any significant change in a child’s personality—either withdrawing or acting out,” she advised.
Such reactions are not unexpected during the initial stress caused by a hurricane, but after a couple of weeks, these behaviors should (begin to) disappear in most children, she said.
As published in Florida Today, October 2004
© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.