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Hurricane Victims Still Feel Stress Years Later

With a potentially devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean just two weeks away, many victims of Katrina may still feel the damage to their mental health for years to come, based on a Florida State University study of adolescent residents affected by hurricane Andrew.

More than 250,000 residents of Miami-Dade County, Fla., were left homeless after Andrew in 1992, the most destructive hurricane to hit America until Katrina leveled New Orleans last year. Researchers studied the mental health of almost 1,000 adolescent patients attending 73 schools in the county before, during and up to seven years after Andrew hit southern Florida.

Researchers discovered a long-term link between the stress generated by dealing with Andrew-related events and depression years down the road. This deluge of stress also led to an increased risk for a number of life-changing events that affected teens, like being moved away from home and away from their parents or failing a grade in school. Even worse, scientists believe their findings may have underestimated the real and devastating psychological impact of Andrew.

Now, imagine the impact on the metro New Orleans area after Katrina, considering casualties were 50 times higher and analysts estimate the economic devastation exceeds Andrew by more than five times.

Over time, those lingering, unresolved emotions can also lead to a greater chance of disease if you don't learn how to handle them better. Meanwhile, one-stop-cures like Prozac and Paxil remain useless and deadly.

Some natural, safer solutions to treat your emotional pain:

MSNBC May 15, 2006

Science Daily May 16, 2006

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