Public health officials are warning that Puerto Rico is teetering of the edge of a "full-fledged mental health crisis" stemming from the trauma of Hurricane Maria and its aftermath, The New York Times reports. In addition to "much" of the population suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress, patients with diagnosed mental illnesses have been severed from their normal routines of therapy and medication. "What we have lost is the foundation that holds a society together," explained the director of clinical psychology at Albizu University, Dr. Domingo Marqués.
Since the storm, twice the normal number of calls have come into the territory's psychiatric crises hotline and suicides are also up, with 32 people recorded as taking their own lives since Sept. 20. "When it starts raining, [Puerto Ricans] have episodes of anxiety because they think their house is going to flood again," said clinical psychologist Dr. Carlos del Toro Ortiz. "They have heart palpitations, sweating, catastrophic thoughts. They think 'I'm going to drown,' 'I'm going to die,' 'I'm going to lose everything.'"