But perhaps the greatest post-disaster impact is the psychological distress such a traumatic event can create. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that after a disaster, it's normal to feel stress, anxiety, sadness, guilt, anger and a bevy of other emotions. Some people have trouble eating, sleeping or concentrating. Those who have lost loved ones, homes or jobs may even develop thoughts of suicide.
Problems can range from post-traumatic stress disorder to substance abuse problems to conduct problems among children, and some of the after-effects may not surface for months or years, according to SAMHSA.
The CDC recommends taking the following actions to help yourself, your family and your community heal after the disruption of a disaster:
- As much as possible, follow a normal routine.
- Eat healthily. Don't overeat or skip meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Volunteer around your community and stay busy.
- Accept help from family, friends and others. Don't be afraid to talk about your feelings.
- Spend a limited amount of time following news reports of what is happeningand access credible sources to avoid rumors or speculation.
Sometimes seeking professional help may be necessary to overcome the feelings that can occur after a disaster wreaks havoc in your life. The CDC suggests talking to a counselor or doctor if you:
- Can't take care of yourself or your children
- Can't do your job on a daily basis
- Use alcohol or drugs to escape your problems
- Feel sad or depressed for more than two weeks
- Develop thoughts of suicide