Storm anxiety not the only mental health concern this hurricane season

Doctor: If you know you have storm anxiety, don’t wait to talk to a professional

Storm anxiety not the only mental health concern this hurricane season
Storm anxiety not the only mental health concern this hurricane season

ORLANDO, Fla. – For nearly more than 15 months, we’ve been dealing with a global pandemic. Factors like unemployment, housing instability, and food insecurity mean mental health challenges are at an all-time high. Some statistics suggest 4 in 10 adults report anxiety and depression, compared to just one in 10 pre-pandemic times.

Dr. Edward Singh is a doctor with Orlando Health. He said he’s seen a definite increase in patients seeking mental health treatment. With the stress of hurricane season, that number could climb.

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“Just the presence of the pandemic puts a heightened sense of anxiety in everybody during mundane tasks, like going to the grocery store, and that slowly perpetuates for other mental illness to be uncovered. With most things, especially with the pandemic, there are things we can do and things we can’t do. We can’t magically erase it, but we can deal with how we work with it,” Singh said.

Singh suggests talking to a mental health professional well before a storm approaches if you know you tend to have storm anxiety. And don’t wait if you find anxiety and depression are affecting daily life.

“If your sleep is impaired, if you’re not eating as much, you’re not interacting or working as well as you could be because you’re constantly worrying. If it’s something a bit more, I would recommend reaching out to a mental health professional to learn relaxation techniques and therapy,” Singh said. Some relaxation techniques they could start at home are deep-breathing exercises, sequential muscle contraction and visual guided therapy.”

[READ MORE: Here’s the impact global warming has on hurricane season, according to forecasters | FEMA: Preparing early for a hurricane will leave you in a better position when storm strikes]

Singh advises patients who take medication to have a three-month supply ready in case of an emergency. He says if you tend to feel anxious, implement daily exercise and cut down on caffeine. He also stresses that if you are in need of mental health help, someone at Orlando Health is always accessible.

If you need help and don’t know where to start, check out this story next: Finding mental health counseling when you’re under or uninsured.

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About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.