|Diagnosing and Managing the Mental Health
Needs of Adults Exposed to Disaster
- Educate patients about physical and emotional symptoms of normal stress reactions.
- Ask patients about their exposure and reactions to disaster.
- Identify patients who may have posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or a substance use disorder and use standard screening tools for further evaluation.
- Encourage patients to take advantage of psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, or both.
REFERRING TO A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
Some patients with trauma-related mental health disorders will need specialty care. Refer patients to a mental health professional if they
- have a history of psychotic or manic symptoms, suicidal ideation, or attempts,
- display severe symptoms or functional impairment,
- have multiple psychiatric comorbidities,
- have a significant history of somatization of psychological problems,
- are not responding to standard treatment,
- have complex psychopharmacologic needs,
- are difficult to engage in treatment or have difficulties following up with previously agreed-to treatment plans,
- live in highly unstructured environments.
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