Coping with storm anxiety

Outside/Inside

Sad boy sitting on a floor in a room

HOUSTON (CW39) – Dr Amy Rollo, owner of Heights Family Counseling says that, “Adults just learn how to mask it and hide it, but I know for me, every time I hear a big boom, I can’t help but be startled. Kids are not scared to show their feelings. If they feel frightened by a thunderstorm or a hurricane that is coming, we are going to see them acting a certain way. Sometimes they have that insight of, ‘I am scared of the storm…’ and they can talk about it. Other times, that comes in a way of acting out. You might see behavior problems, hyper-activity, looking for attention, anything like that.” 

Part 1  

  • How children cope with severe weather 
  • How to comfort and communicate with your child during this process 

But what if a child has lost someone in a storm, flood, hurricane, or even a weather induced car accident. How does that alter their feelings of weather moving forward?  

Dr. Amy responded by stating, “We are talking about grief, and we are talking about trauma. Both are going to affect them. The trauma, again those triggers, every time a storm comes up if it was in hurricane season, when summer approaches… our body holds on to trauma and it remembers it. We are going to see the grief appear in the season of the trauma and grief is normal! We normally want to make negative feelings go away to make someone feel better, but that is to make ourselves feel better. Just let them know that it is okay to miss your loved ones, it is okay to talk about things, it is okay to cry”. 

Many children experienced deadly winter conditions for the first time back in february, how will this impact their thoughts about next winter…  

“What we are going to start seeing is that the next time a freeze comes, kids may not have the language to express that they are in fight or flight or freeze mode, but they are going to start acting a little differently because they are preparing for ‘What if we lose power? What if we are freezing in our house again?’ All these things are good for parents to be aware of so that we can have those conversations of how are you feeling? The number one thing is that we want kids to know that they are safe, and how we are going to take care of them.”, says Amy.  

Dr Amy Rollo says that as a parent you don’t need to know everything to console your child. 

She adds, “We want to capture what they are really saying which is ‘Why do bad things happen to us? Why do I have to hurt?’ You don’t have the answer to why tornadoes happen, why they kill, but one of the things you know is that the child is in pain. Kids are not looking for the answers, they are just looking for comfort and knowing that they will be okay.”  

Part 2  

  • The psychology behind hoarding supplies during a weather event 
  • Reverse (SAD) Seasonal Affective Disorder- Summer Blues, it is real! 

Looking for a natural way to heal: fresh air, sunlight, and movement does a body good.  

After experiencing a traumatic weather event. Our mindset is altered the next time similar conditions arise. 

Dr Amy says, “The brain says ahh, remember when this happened last time? It is like an alert, and your whole body is bracing. We are wired to prepare ourselves so that we can have safety.” 

Could this be the science behind the empty grocery store shelves?  

Amy responds, “So, what you are talking about is what can I control and what can I not control. We cannot control the weather, but we can control having toilet paper. I am not sure how that is going to protect us, but we think it will. Having water… you know I remember losing water for a few days. Now I’m thinking, ‘I am not going to let that happen again.’ It does give us a sense of calm. For example, at least this is a way I can protect myself. It is not a bad thing to do, to control what you can, anything to give you a sense of calm and peace. Kids are going to pick up on that energy in the house too.” 

And we have all felt a little mopey on cold, dreary days… I asked Dr Amy to explain seasonal affective disorder, and the benefits of springtime for the majority of those who suffer. 

“Seasonal affective disorder impacts a little less than 5% of the population, but it impacts 20% of the people who have a mood disorder already. If you have mild depression, you are going to see that worsen in the winter months, even in Texas, we still see it. When spring comes, I always say spring comes with a little bit of hope, flowers start blooming, trees are becoming green again, and people are spending time out on the patios more. And you get better with that sunlight.,” she adds.  

In regions prone to oppressive heat… Could we see similar negative affects in the summer-time?  

Amy says, “You are talking about Texas where we see triple digits. A lot of people are dealing with the same thing! They are not getting enough sunlight because we are in the AC, people do not want to sweat they do not want to be outside.” 

This is still classified as seasonal affective disorder, just a different season than what people normally assume. 

“We are just not getting enough sunlight. We are feeling hot and trapped indoors!” says Amy. 

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