A sudden event, such as an accidental fire, hurricane or other severe storm are all types of disasters that can cause serious disruption to our everyday lives. Coping with disaster can be difficult, especially for children and the elderly. Understanding the effects of the disaster is the first step in coping with disaster related stress.
Signs of Disaster Related Stress
Everyone affected by a disaster has different needs and can show signs of stress in many ways. It is important to recognize these signs and seek help from crisis counseling or a stress management organization when needed.
The following are common signs of disaster related stress:
- Depression and sadness
- Mood swings including sudden bursts of crying
- Trouble concentrating
- Overwhelming feelings of guilt
- Fear of the future
- Physical symptoms including headaches and stomachaches
- Tunnel vision
- Change in attention span
Dealing With Stress
There are many resources available to help in coping with disaster. State and local government agencies can provide direction in connecting with crisis counseling for individuals affected by natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Local chapters of the Red Cross provide disaster relief for victims of fire and natural disasters. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a 24/7 national hotline dedicated to providing support to anyone experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. We also recommend visiting the FEMA website for additional information on available resources: https://www.fema.gov/coping-disaster.
We also recommend the following tips for easing disaster related stress:
- As difficult as it may be, it is important to talk about how you are feeling. Whether you seek professional counseling or look to family members for support, sharing your feelings is a pivotal step to recovery
- Try to maintain a normal routine and limit demanding responsibilities as much as possible
- Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event
Always remember, individuals respond differently to stressful disasters. Be patient with those affected and reach out for assistance when needed.