One year after Hurricane Sandy, depression down, anger up

Nov. 16, 2013 at 12:28 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- A year after Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, New York and Connecticut depression levels in areas affected mostly returned to before storm levels, a survey says.

Gallup found there was a 25 percent increase in depression diagnoses among residents of ZIP codes most affected by Superstorm Sandy immediately following the storm, but the depression rate today was lower than it was before the storm.

Gallup asked respondents if a physician or nurse had ever diagnosed them with depression at any point, therefore, these findings do not necessarily imply that the storm itself led to new depression cases or that recovery operations helped those suffering from the illness.

However, the significant increase in diagnoses of clinical depression shortly after the storm revealed depression had climbed considerably in the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy at a time when there was no change throughout the remainder of the country.

Residents living in the ZIP codes most impacted by Sandy -- as well as those living elsewhere in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut -- also reported a significant increase in worry on any given day after the storm, while there was no change in worry among the rest of the United States.

However, in contrast, anger slightly increased among those most affected by the disaster, but not for those who live elsewhere. While the increase in anger is significant, it is unclear whether the slow recovery -- battling with insurance companies -- from the storm or some other factor may be causing the uptick, Gallup said. The findings are based on daily interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Sept. 1 to Nov. 6; 9,409 interviews with residents of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut -- divided into two geographies -- ZIP codes hardest hit by Sandy and receiving Individual Assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the remaining ZIP codes in the three states.

The original 2012 survey results were based on 6,414 interviews conducted Sept. 15 to Dec. 15 with adult residents of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut -- 1,713 occurred before the storm and another 1,690 after the storm in areas most impacted by Sandy, with another 1,433 before the storm and 1,578 after the storm among remaining residents of the three states.

Results one year later were based on 2,995 interviews conducted Sept. 1 to Nov.6. Of these, 1,661 were conducted in the areas most impacted by Sandy, with another 1,334 with remaining residents in the three states. Another 30,701 interviews were completed adults in the 47 remaining states.

The margin of error ranges from 0.5 percentage points to 2.4 percentage points.

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