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Chelsea IrizarrySep 21, 2017, 5:41 pmSep 21, 2017, 6:06 pm

The impact of natural disasters on the mind

Psychologist: Repeated bouts of anxiety felt by those with family in Puerto Rico, Mexico can have detrimental effects on the body


With so many natural disasters happening back-to-back, psychologist Doctor Roy Aranda says residents with families in impacted areas are dealing with heightened anxiety that can lead to physical consequences.

"People all of the sudden are in this situation that we're seeing all of these incredible disasters one after another, one after another," Doctor Aranda said.

Doctor Aranda has treated clients with post-traumatic stress syndrome and trauma for over 30 years. He says he's never seen a chain of such devastating storms.

"I have many patients here and in other offices who are Hispanic, some are from Puerto Rico, some are from the Dominican Republic. My own wife has family there. The main concern is you can't get in touch with our family, the power is 100 percent out," he said.

And with images and videos of devastation circulating on the internet, Doctor Aranda says the exposure negatively impacts people here at home.

"Merely seeing it, the visual effect, that has a secondary kind of anxiety that can fest your way," he said.

Being exposed to prolonged anxiety in the buildup of multiple natural disasters can also expose the body to physical consequences.

"Sleep disturbance, stomach aches, reliance on or increase use of medication," he explained.

He advises those who are impacted not to dwell on what has occurred, but to focus on the positive and take action by creating support groups or fundraisers to help victims. But know when to seek professional help.

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Oyster Bay, New York