Tropical storm Isaac has New Orleans in its sights, and meteorologists are predicting it will develop into a category 2 hurricane and hit the city on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Although Isaac is not expected to produce Katrina-level devastation, there is still potential for 110 mph winds and tornados in the region. With the potential for yet another natural disaster in the gulf, I thought it might be interesting to consider the effect extreme weather events can have on the victims’ mental health. According to an article that appeared in American Medical News last summer, it is common for victims of a natural disaster to experience acute stress symptoms such as heart palpitations, nightmares, disorientation, anxiety, and hallucinations. Individuals may also exhibit symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health professionals say physicians who are working with disaster survivors must be prepared to identify patients who are experiencing these symptoms and prevent them from escalating. However, doctors must also show some restraint. Mental health professionals say doctors should refrain from diagnosing disaster survivors with PTSD or another mental condition within 30 days of the event. In many cases, symptoms are short-lived and will gradually subside. If a patient’s symptoms continue for more than 30 days, doctors should screen for PTSD. Metal health professionals also caution physicians from prescribing medications to help ease these temporary symptoms. Doing so can hinder a person’s ability to properly cope with a traumatic event. Doctors who are dealing with a large number of disaster survivors need to turn the stethoscope inward as well. It is not uncommon for them to experience symptoms similar to their patients. Mental health professionals suggest doctors exercise, get adequate sleep, take time off from work, and talk with colleagues to prevent vicarious traumatization.