July 7, 2010
Hurricanes, tsunamis, tornados, earthquakes, floods, fires
oil spills. Disasters, whether natural or man-made, can take a number of physical tolls on those affected—injuring and killing many—as well as displacing survivors from their homes and communities, and impacting their short- and long-term physical health.
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.
According to the Health & Human Services Department's Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is research to prove that such events can have a psychological impact that is both long-lasting and serious.
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:
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