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As summer approaches as do the summer storms which hit Floridians on a nearly daily basis. Winter is the primetime in Florida with hardly a cloud in the warm, humid sky. From spring to fall, the state lives up to its tropical nature. From June 1 to November 30th, the state of Florida is officially in hurricane season, the peak of which is in August and September, right when Florida kids go back to school. All season long, local news stations and newspaper emphasize the need for residents to be prepare for hurricane season. Go to the store, buy extra water, buy non perishable food items, have battery operated radios, fans, and devices for when the electricity goes out. Buy extra propane for the grill, check the hurricane shutters, and have plywood ready. Don’t wait until the last minute, the news stations urge. Of course, millions of people throughout the state, the Carolinas, the east coast, and the Carribean do wait. If and/or when a hurricane does hit and causes the damage a hurricane causes, people are left stranded. More than houses and neighborhoods are damaged in a hurricane. People are damaged, too as their houses, their homes, their security, and their mental health is ravaged.

The 2018 hurricane season is predicted to be active, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Colorado State University has predicted seven hurricanes for the 2018 season. Many hurricanes will form and be designated actual hurricanes throughout the course of a season. Only a few will become major hurricanes- a predicted three for the season. In order to be considered a major hurricane, it has to reach at least a Category 3 in strength with wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour, the article explains. More hurricanes means a greater likelihood of landfall. Just one landfall hurricane is all it takes to cause a season of stress and suffering for millions of people.

All of the stress and suffering which comes with anticipating, preparing for, going through, and dealing with the aftermath of landfall hurricanes takes a toll on mental health. Psychiatric Times published a summary on literature regarding suicide and PTSD following natural disasters, using Puerto Rico, which was hit devastatingly hard by Hurricane Maria last year, as a case study. The topic of suicide can be triggering. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, read with caution. You can reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Eight months before the hurricane, there was an average of 19 suicides per month on the island. In the three months following the hurricane, that number raised to 25. The summary also used Florida’s tragic Hurricane Andrew as an example for PTSD, citing a study which found that PTSD among Florida residents exposed to the hurricane raised to 26% at six months post-Andrew and 29% 30 months post-Andrew.

There are steps Floridians, and anyone who is vulnerable to hurricane season, can take to prepare their mental health for hurricane season as well. We’ll discuss that in an upcoming post.

Natural disasters are traumatizing. We can feel like we have to stick to our homes to clean up the mess. You deserve to be rebuilt as well. If you are struggling to cope with trauma, you are not alone. The Guest House Ocala welcomes everyone with open arms to participate in our residential treatment programs for trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800