City Health Information
Volume 33 (2014) New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene No. 1; 1-8



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.



Some New Yorkers will experience mental health problems as a result of their exposure to traumatic events. Primary care providers are often the first point of care for patients with disaster-related mental health disorders and have a unique opportunity to identify these patients and manage their care. While evaluating their patients for physical ailments and other health problems, clinicians can identify, screen, treat, and, if necessary, refer patients for additional evaluation and treatment for the 4 most common trauma-related mental health disorders: PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and substance use disorders.

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