Monday, July 02, 2012

Power Outage Disorder, Moderate, Recurrent, With or Without Psychotic Features

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we've been having issues.   In fact, we've gotten a whole new type of weather event, the wretched Derecho.  And, to think, I believed I'd heard of all types of weather.  Mostly cloudy.  Partly sunny.  Rain.  Wind.  Cyclone.  Typhoon. Toronado.  Tsunami.  Hurricane. Gale-force winds.  Snow.  Blizzard.  Hot & Humid (we do that well).  Fog. Hail.  Wintry mix.  Now we have derechos.

Known as a derecho, the string of storms combined intense lightning and rain with hurricane-force gusts as it swept from the Midwest into the mid-Atlantic Friday night. Meteorologists blamed the violent weather on the prolonged 100-plus temperatures that blanketed the eastern United States last week. 

Derechos typically form when an atmospheric disturbance lifts the warm air in regions experiencing intense heat, causing thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds to develop, AccuWeather meteorologist Brian Edwards said. Traveling at an average speed of 60 miles per hour, Friday's storm took 12 hours to cover more than 700 miles before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. 

Okay, so I admit, I was not here for the event.  I was in the tropics, enjoying sunshine and 85 degree weather (70's at night), far away from the heat of my hometown, only to return north to massive power outages, downed trees, and 102 degree heat without air conditioning.  I spent my first day back in a laundromat, chatting with another psychiatrist while my laundry twirled and my laptop and phone charged.  Funny, I imagined that laundromats would have upgraded since my younger days and have air conditioning and wi-fi, but that was not to be.  

By 10 o'clock last night, I was one of the lucky ones.  My power returned to both my home and office.  It returned before I had cancelled my patients--my office mates were less optimistic and it made for a quiet day in the suite.

The joy of social media, 3G, 4G, and constant connectivity is that one can make interesting observations about how power failures/ cable outages/ and technology failures-- as people post their angst on Facebook.  I will tell you that I've noticed that the symptoms one sees with power/cable outages and the resultant rise in body temperature and withdrawal from technology...well, it all looks a lot like what we see with psychiatric disorders.  Maybe a diagnosis for DSM-5-revised?
  • agitation
  • marked irritability
  • sleeplessness
  • restlessness
  • pacing
  • decreased socializing (especially as the food goes bad and the beer gets warm)
  • decreased motivation
  • repetitive pushing of power buttons on non-functioning devices
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • +/- guilt
  • boredom
  • indigestion &/or nausea
  • fear and a sense of impending doom
  • anxiety
  • frizzy hair
What symptoms do you experience in a power outage?