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Sandy Anniversary Overwhelming for Some [AUDIO]

Tomorrow will mark one year since Superstorm Sandy devastated the New Jersey coastline, forcing many residents from their homes, taking all of their belongings and leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Hurricane Sandy Emotion
Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images

While many are in the midst of rebuilding and are still going through the recovery process, the media attention surrounding the anniversary can renew the feelings of loss and suffering. In some cases, the heightened sadness can result in more severe reactions.

“One of the things those who were most affected by Sandy may be going through are anniversary reactions. Anniversary reactions are the reoccurrence of distressing feelings that resurface around the anniversary of a traumatic event,” said Dr. Christine Hatchard, psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Monmouth University. “Those reactions can range from mild stress to more severe symptoms. They usually involve anxiety, sadness, irritability, helplessness or even physical symptoms, like headaches.”

For residents who are feeling added stress with the anniversary, there are steps they can take.

“Often, just becoming conscious of these anniversary reactions can help a great deal. They might be feeling sad or anxious right now, but they may not understand why. So, just by being aware can help them feel more safe and then they can devise a plan to make them feel better,” said Dr. Hatchard. “If the reactions are more mild, they can just remind themselves that these feelings are quite normal and tend to pass with time. They can also spend time with family, friends and loved ones and engage in activities that reduce their stress.”

If the feelings are more severe, reaching out to a medical health professional, or therapist, may be the best option.

“Professional therapists are aware of anniversary reactions and unresolved trauma, so it’s important for people to know that help is available,” said Hatchard.

“People are generally pretty good at knowing at what point they may need help. Generally, if they’re talking to friends or others who have suffered at the hands of Sandy and their reactions are more severe than others, or if other people are not relating to the level of distress they are feeling, then that may be a good indicator that medical help is necessary.”

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