Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Feeling Blue about Sandy Is Nothing Unusual Experts Say Unpredictable Crises May Bring out the Best in People

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Feeling Blue about Sandy Is Nothing Unusual Experts Say Unpredictable Crises May Bring out the Best in People

Article excerpt

It took a little while but psychologist Mary Beth Mannarino finally identified the source of the "heaviness, a layer of stress" that she had been feeling for several days: Superstorm Sandy.

"I hadn't connected the dots until [Tuesday] night," said Ms. Mannarino, director of graduate psychology programs at Chatham University. "Even though I wasn't directly affected, there was an extra, little layer of stress throughout the day that I had to deal with."

She's not alone.

Even as Pittsburghers experience relief at escaping Sandy's wrath, many are feeling sadness, grief and compassion for those not so fortunate. And that's OK, she said.

"It's normal to have a wide range of feelings, from the fear and anxiety of not knowing what's going to happen, to the sadness and sense of loss for people directly affected. There's a sense of helplessness, I think," Ms. Mannarino said. "And it's normal to feel angry -- angry that you feel helpless, angry that you don't have control, angry that it happened, period."

Jack Cahalane, chief of adult mood and anxiety services at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic of UPMC, agreed.

"I think there is a feeling of discomfort, of uneasiness," he said. "Part of it is we all like to understand life as predictable. It does cause us to think about uncertainties when large dramatic effects occur and they're out of your control."

Connections to the affected areas would increase a person's reaction to the tragedy, both noted.

"If you've been there and know the place it does make it different," Mr. Cahalane said. "I grew up in Staten Island and still have relatives there. They're safe but have no power, literally or figuratively. I feel helpless, concerned, and would like to do something but there's nothing to do except stay in touch with them and provide support."

Many Pittsburghers will be affected because they vacation on the New Jersey shore, some since they were kids. …

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