September 14, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

ADMH Encourages People to Get Help for Stress-Related Issues

POSSIBLE REACTIONS DUE TO 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11, RECENT TORNADOES AND
THREAT OF HURRICANES

MONTGOMERY – This time of year may be difficult for some Alabamians who could be experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder for a number of reasons. Reactions to the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, natural disasters such as the April 2011 tornadoes and the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season could be taking their toll. The Alabama Department of Mental Health wants to educate Alabamians about common reactions to trauma and encourage people to get help if symptoms occur and do not subside. ADMH’s Medical Director Timothy Stone, MD, said, “It is very important when someone is experiencing symptoms that they seek help because PTSD can be treated. There are safe and effective treatments for the disorder including counseling, psychotherapy and medications. With good treatment and the passage of time, an individual can come to terms with the traumatic event and become stronger and healthier than they ever thought they could be.”

While most anniversaries are a time of celebration and joy, an unpleasant anniversary for all of the nation’s citizens just passed. The tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the U.S. could have triggered anniversary reactions for some who were directly or indirectly traumatized by the disaster. Anniversary reactions can be a very emotionally draining time. Grief, depression and PTSD issues can start to surface. According to the National Center for PTSD, anniversary reactions usually involve worsening of symptoms related to PTSD such as:
  • Re-experiencing: Perhaps the most common reaction – a repeat of the feelings, bodily responses and thoughts that occurred at the time of the event.
  • Avoidance: Staying away from anything related to the trauma such as events, places or people.
  • Arousal: Feeling nervous and on edge. Reactions may also include losing sleep or focus, or becoming more jumpy or quick to anger.
Experts say that most people will feel better within a week or two after the anniversary. However, for those who continue to experience symptoms, it is best to contact your doctor or local mental health provider.

In addition to 9/11 anniversary reactions, many Alabamians may also be experiencing PTSD symptoms due to the devastating April 2011 tornadoes that affected 43 counties throughout the state. Although the event happened nearly five months ago, those who lost family or friends, personal and sentimental items, or property can still be experiencing mental health issues. According to Mental Health America, for many, PTSD symptoms begin almost right away after the trauma happens. For others, symptoms may not become a problem until months or years later.

Help is available to Alabamians affected by the storms through Project Rebound, which is an initiative of the Alabama Department of Mental Health that serves people directly or indirectly impacted by a disaster. Project Rebound responded to the tornado outbreak by placing more than 200 crisis counselors in the field. It also includes a 24/7 Call Center at 1-800-639-REBOUND with crisis counselors on the line that provide counseling and referral services. These services are long-term and remain active for many months after a crisis.

In addition to the tornadoes which have already affected many Alabamians, the state is currently near the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. According to the National Hurricane Center, the 2011 Atlantic season runs from June through the end of October. While everyone is hopeful that Alabamians will not have to deal with another hurricane, it is helpful to know that Project Rebound teams will be ready to offer assistance.

PTSD can affect people of any age, gender or socio-economic background. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about one in 30 adults in the U.S. suffer from PTSD in a given year. To learn more about trauma, PTSD and recovery, key resources are listed below.

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RESOURCES

Mental health services throughout the state can be found by contacting the Alabama Department of Mental Health at 1-800-967-0955 or visiting www.mh.alabama.gov.

For more information about Project Rebound and assistance for victims of the April 2011 tornadoes, visit
www.projectrebound.org.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recently released a new brochure on post-traumatic stress disorder found at www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=posttraumatic_stress_disorder.


  • For more information, visit http://mh.alabama.gov
  • For more state-wide press releases, click here