Some Oklahomans Feel Mental Effects Of Earthquakes

Sunday, November 13th 2011, 6:51 pm
By: News 9

Deanne Stein,

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- As Oklahoma communities feel more tremors and earthquakes, some people are still dealing with some aftershocks of their own, on the inside.

11/13/2011 Related Story: Two Earthquakes Recorded Near Meeker Sunday Morning

In fact, Debbie Payne in Shawnee said she hasn't been calm since the record-setting 5.6 earthquake shook her home November 5.

"We've lived here all of our lives," said Payne. "We know about tornadoes, but the earthquakes are really new and to me, it's really terrifying."

Following the quake, Payne only had a broken mirror to show for it, but mentally, she says she's a wreck. In fact, she believes she could have post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. A doctor hasn't confirmed that but she says she has all the symptoms.

"When we feel a small tremor, it just reinstates the fear," said Payne. "The fear is there and well, if these are coming, is there a greater one around the corner?"

Doctors say stressful events like an earthquake can affect people differently. And it's not uncommon for some people to have anxiety or develop a stress disorder following a traumatic event.

PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) are two conditions that can be caused by experiencing or witnessing almost any kind of trauma, especially one that is unexpected.

Symptoms of PTSD and ASD:
emotional numbness
uncharacteristic irritability or even violent behavior
problems focusing or concentrating
flashbacks (which can be triggered by people, places, things, sounds, smells, etc.)
sleep disturbance.

Treatment for PTSD and ASD includes antidepressant medication and short-term psychotherapy. Some people also have found relief through alternative treatment methods such as yoga, meditation, exercising and aromatherapy.

Payne is working on some self treatments of her own, hoping her symptoms will go away in time. She said she's walking and going outdoors more and even put together an emergency disaster kit to help ease her mind. However, if her symptoms don't subside soon, she said she will see her doctor.

"I think we'll be fine," said Payne. "It's just new and scary to us and just another thing Oklahomans have to go through."

Find out more about how to cope with trauma.

Special Coverage: Oklahoma Earthquakes