This article appears in its original, unabridged form at www.ready.gov/coping-with-disaster.
Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved. The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business or personal property.
Children, senior citizens, people with access or functional needs, and people for whom English is not their first language are especially at risk. Children may become afraid and some elderly people may seem disoriented at first. People with access or functional needs may require additional assistance.
Seek crisis counseling if you or someone in your family is experiencing issues with disaster-related stress.
Recognizing the Signs of Disaster-Related Stress
- Difficulty communicating thoughts.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Low threshold of frustration.
- Increased use of drugs/alcohol.
- Limited attention span.
- Poor work performance.
- Headaches/stomach problems.
- Reluctance to leave home.
- Depressions, sadness, mood-swings, and easy bouts of crying.
- Overwhelming guilt and self-doubt.
To ease disaster-related stress:
- Talk with someone about your feelings – anger, sorrow, and other emotions – even though it may be difficult.
- Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
- Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event or be frustrated because you feel you cannot help director in the rescue work.
- Take steps to promote your own physical and emotional healing by healthy eating, rest, exercise, relaxation, and meditation.
- Maintain a normal family and daily routine, limiting demanding responsibilities on yourself and your family.
- Spend time with family and friends.
- Participate in memorials.
- Use existing support groups of family, friends, and religious institutions.