Regaining Mental and Physical Health After the Storm - - ABC13

Regaining Mental and Physical Health After the Storm


Reporter: Melinda Zosh

Lynchburg, VA - Living without electricity has really thrown a lot of people off their normal routines. When the lights go out, a lot of people turn to eating out.

Exercise routines tend to suffer too. Mental health experts say heightened anxiety and stress is another concern.

Things are just starting to pick up again at Light Counseling in Lynchburg. Dr. Mark Shadoan, Clinical Director at the center, expects to see some patients who have been impacted by the storm.

"When people don't have the ability to control their environment, they develop anxiety problems," said Dr. Shadoan.

Dr. Shadoan says some could even develop acute stress disorder. It's similar to PTSD and signs show up in the first month following a trauma.

"Maybe someone begins to be afraid to leave home, that's not normal," said Shadoan. "And seeing trees be bent back and forth like a rubber band? Is that traumatizing, yeah it could be for somebody."

The Central Virginia Health District recommends you ease into your routine slowly. And they say it's best not to bring bad eating habits back into your homes.

"Certainly, stomach upset if you're not used to eating high fat, high sodium, high sugar content foods, it can affect your digestive system," said Leslie Hoglund, senior health educator at Central Virginia Health District.

"Staying hydrated, drinking enough water, enough electrolytes, things like Gatorade," said Joseph Alderson, who works at Riverside Runners.

The storm forced Alderson to change his running routine. He's trying to avoid the trails, hitting the streets instead.

"If you were running five days a week and you have to take a week off, maybe alternate it," said Alderson.

Exercise can also help to relieve stress from dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Dr. Shadoan says too much stress can actually shut down parts of your brain.

"And you've got this bullet train of reaction from the amygdala saying 'danger, danger!' and your logic, your reason, your analytical ability has to climb up like the Appalachian trail," said Dr. Shadoan.

Some signs of heightened stress include loss of sleep and short term memory loss. Experts recommend that you seek help if you have trouble easing back into your normal routine.

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