The harrowing experience of a natural disaster can lead to a spectrum of psychological disorders. Tornados, earthquakes and other potentially traumatic events scare witnesses and victims. Studies examine the statistics and psychology involved in dealing with the experience.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presents in some natural disaster victims. Symptoms of PTSD include recurring flashbacks, nightmares, self-isolation and avoidance of emotional and physical reactions to reminders of the event.
“The most immediate and typical reaction to a calamity is shock, which at first manifests as numbness or denial. Quickly—or eventually—shock can give way to an overemotional state that often includes high levels of anxiety, guilt or depression,” Dr. Babbel wrote.
Emotional helplessness can occur, as well as the loss of homes, businesses and possessions. Worries about money, pets and finding another roof over their head can compound mental health issues.
Traumatic experiences affect more than two-thirds of the general population some time in their lives and up to one-fifth of United States citizens experience one in any given year, as observed by officials from Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies in New York. Thirteen percent of American people will experience natural disaster specifically some time in their lives. Direct victims of natural disasters experience PTSD at a 30 to 40 percent rate, according to the group’s studies.
Dr. Babbel implores victims of natural disasters and their support systems to set a realistic length of time for processing of emotions after the event. Otherwise, true healing is difficult to come by.
The American Psychological Association agrees with Dr. Babbel’s assertion and provides their own strategies for those reeling from natural disasters. In addition for time, victims should ask their loved ones for support both emotional and practical, although this depends on if these individuals were also impacted by the event.
Avoid making unnecessary decisions such as changing jobs or ending relationships, as these can add extraneous stress when life can already feel in shambles. Instead, share the emotions of the experiences with trained professionals and support groups. Sort out practical and emotional needs. Reestablish some kind of routine for a sense of comfort and normalcy while handling the extraordinary.