More residents experiencing anxiety because of weather - KOAM TV 7

More residents experiencing anxiety because of weather


According to many local doctors more Four State residents are seeking help for anxiety due to weather.  They say it's an issue that needs prompt and proper care.

Psychologists say Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is nothing out of the ordinary for Four Staters, whether they experienced last year's tornado or not.

Doctors expect their number of patients to grow ahead of the anniversary of last year's tornado.

While construction marks progress since May 22, it may seem one step forward brings two steps backward for emotions.

"It doesn't mean that they have a personal weakness, that's just the nature of a disaster like this," says Dr. Tamon Paige, a psychiatrist with Mercy McCune Brooks Hospital.

Social worker Lynn Szczepanik worked at the old Saint John's Hospital but was at her home in Carl Junction during the tornado when it hit Joplin and Duquesne.

There was still mental trauma.

"That Friday, I went to work, my job that I loved," says Szczepanik.  "I put my lunch money in my drawer and said goodbye to everybody, and said 'see you Monday', and that was it - you never saw them."

"Some people have mild anxiety if there's storms or something that happens that reminds them of it," says Dr. Paige.  "Some people think about it every day - have memories come in that they don't want there.  They'll have nightmares every night."

Dr. Paige says he's seen more new patients within the past few months.

"A lot of what we see is that people have had trouble the whole time and are just now starting to get some help."

Recent emotional triggers for many include an active month of weather, and the upcoming one year tornado anniversary.

Dr. Paige says it's important to realize if anxiety is mild or not.

Severe cases involve weather-related stress interfering with work.

Doctors say most Post Traumatic Stress Disorders can be treated by talking to a psychologist or counselor.

"Some people will benefit from medications but what helps the most with anxiety surrounding storms and things like that is psychotherapy," says Dr. Paige.  "I'm not a big fan of prescribing addicting medications."

Szczepanik now works at Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital in Carthage, Missouri where she isn't required to be reminded of a destructive past.

"I was blessed to come to a place where I could be away from it," Szczepanik says.

Szczepanik gets strength from knowing her feelings are shared by many others.

Doctors say it's important to address severe cases of anxiety because often times the condition will only worsen.

There is a website that some psychologists direct their patients towards for additional help:  National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 







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