How to deal with the stress factor resulting from disasters and catastrophes
People are likely to experience at least one of several emotional responses due to disasters that affect health, emotions, and behavior. Some times the effects are temporary and in some cases it takes years to overcome it.
It has been more than three months since the President issued a disaster declaration for Rhode Island as a result of the severe storms and flooding occurring in March and April. While recovery is well under way, something often overlooked in the process is the stress "everyone" experiences as a result of coping with disaster, disaster recovery officials note.
"It is essential for people to understand that everyone who goes through a disaster experience is affected by it; no one is untouched," said Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Coordinating Officer Craig A. Gilbert.
State Coordinating Officer J. David Smith agreed: "Long after the flood waters have receded - trash and debris removed; mold and mildew abated; homes, roads and bridges repaired - stress can remain. Individuals and families need to take steps to promote their physical and emotional healing. Make time for your mental health."
Many people are likely to experience at least one of several emotional responses that affect health, emotions, and behavior, according to the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. Officials offer the following list of some stress indicators to look for, and tips for helping get through this difficult time.
Some emotional signs of stress include:
Some physical signs of stress are fatigue, chest pain and rapid heart beat. Some behavioral signs of stress are withdrawal and isolation, even from family and friends; restlessness; emotional outbursts and being startled easily. Be alert to problems that are more than you can handle. If signs of stress are serious or persistent, consider seeing a counselor or other mental health professional. Rhode Island has an active statewide 211 telephone referral system, which operates 24/7 and can be accessed for all disaster-related needs in the state.
Mental health experts suggest a number of ways to relieve symptoms of stress following a disaster:
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