Anxiety Disorders

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Mood Disorders

PTSD, Trauma and Abuse


Substance Use Disorder

Disaster Mental Health Principles and Practice 2018

Saturday, October 27
9:15 AM - 10:30 AM
Location: W240

Disasters are events that cause severe local damage, which usually can be managed locally. Catastrophes such as wars, economic collapse, and extreme natural events such as tsunamis, large magnitude earthquakes and very strong hurricanes are characterized by a national or regional destructive impact that requires enormous assistance. Catastrophes alter landscapes as well as lifescapes and cause long-term disruption to social order, great economic losses, and can change the psyche of a state or nation. Studies done after 9/11, after the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean and off Japan, and post Hurricane Katrina point to a serious incidence of stress disorders, depression, anxiety, and PTSD along with increased substance abuse that would strain not only a normal system of health care, but heavily impact a disrupted system of health care. This panel will discuss how to deal with the stresses that a suddenly relocated population and health providers face, the latest on the diagnosis and management of post-disaster depression, anxiety, PTSD, screening for suicidality, and finally tackling the problem of post-disaster substance abuse with an emphasis on opiate abuse.

The findings and conclusions in this presentation have not been formally disseminated by [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry] and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.

Richard H. Weisler, MD

Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry
Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill Medical Centers
Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Raleigh, NC


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Pamela G. Tucker, MD

Medical Officer
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA

Pamela G. Tucker, MD, went to medical school at the University of South Alabama. She did a rotating internship in internal medicine as well as a residency in adult psychiatry there. In 1994, she came to CDC/ATSDR and did a two year ORISE fellowship in environmental public health.

During her twenty two years at CDC/ATSDR, Dr. Tucker has worked in many roles: as a health educator in over 75 communities affected by hazardous waste sites, as a producer of medical education case studies, and as a disaster responder. In 1994, she researched the question of whether communities who may have been exposed to hazardous substances suffer stress and distress as communities who have suffered from natural disasters can. An expert panel review of the evidence stated that these exposed communities can suffer from chronically elevated stress. In 1996, the agency proceeded with finding ways to prevent and mitigate this increased stress in communities suffering from acute and chronic exposures. ATSDR formed a community stress team. This team consisting of Dr. Tucker, PhD psychologists, masters level therapists, and community involvement specialists. They responded to over 15 communities request for assistance with psychosocial stress related to hazardous waste sites and accidental chemical spills. They offered community stress needs assessments, and worked with community leaders and members to identify cause of stress at those sites and finding practical ways to cope with them. Dr. Tucker has also responded to natural disasters such as Katrina and Deepwater Horizon.


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Disaster Mental Health Principles and Practice 2018

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