Return to Index
How to Cope With Disaster: Tips for Adults
Responses to Disaster
- Disbelief and shock
- Fear and anxiety
- Emotional numbness
- Irritability and anger
- Sadness and depression
- Feeling powerless
- Extreme hunger or lack of appetite
- Difficulty making decisions
- Crying without cause
- Headaches and stomach problems
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excessive drinking or drug use
What You Can Do
- Talk about it. Not expressing your feelings will keep you from being able to work through what happened. By talking with others, you will relieve stress, realize that other people share your feelings, and know you are not alone.
- Take good care of your physical health. Get plenty of rest and exercise. Remember to eat well. Avoid excessive drinking and risk-taking activities.
- Take good care of your mental health. Do things that you find relaxing and soothing. Give yourself the time to grieve. Recall other times you have experienced strong emotions and how they were resolved.
- Spend time with your family and friends. If you have children, encourage them to discuss their concerns and feelings with you.
- Try to resume your normal activities. As soon as it feels comfortable, go back to your usual routine.
- Do something positive that will help you gain a greater sense of control. Examples of this include giving blood, taking a first aid class, or donating food or clothing.
- Ask for help. If you feel overwhelmed by the disaster, it is not a sign of weakness.
National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net
Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org
Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca
Coping with disaster: tips for adults. National Mental Health Association website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/coping-with-disaster/adult-tips/. Accessed November 12, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 11/2013
- Update Date: 11/12/2013