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Coping With a Disaster or Traumatic Event

Natural disasters can be traumatic. Experiencing a dangerous or violent flood, storm, wildfire, or earthquake is frightening and the devastation to the familiar environment can be long lasting and distressing. Here are some steps that individuals can take for themselves and their families to mitigate and lessen the mental health impact felt by the community.

1 of 13
After Hurricane Sandy
        James Korman. PsyD, ACT
                  Director
       Behavioral Health & Cognitive
             Therapy Center
After Sandy

• Common Reactions
• What can be done about them
• When to seek help
Common Responses
• Occur whenever exposed to or witness
  potentially life threatening events

• Usually resolve in a matter of weeks or
a few months
Emotional Reactions
          •     Shock                          • Helplessness
          •     Terror                         • Loss of pleasure
          •     Irritability                   • Difficulty feeling
          •     Blame                            happy
          •                                    • Emotional numbing
                Anger
          •                                    • Grief or sadness
                Guilt
                                               • Vulnerability


Source: The National Center for PTSD
US Dept of Veterans Affairs
Thinking Reactions
         • Problems with                       • Self-blame
                 
                      Concentration            • Intrusive
                 
                      Making decisions           thoughts/memories
                 
                      Memory                   • Worry
         • Disbelief                           • Tunnel vision,
         • Confusion                             dreamlike or
         • Nightmares                            "spacey" feeling


Source : The National Center for PTSD
US Dept of Veterans Affairs
Physical Reactions
      •     Fatigue, exhaustion            •   Headaches
      •     Insomnia                       •   Stomach upset
      •     Easily startled                •   Decreased appetite
      •     Hyper or geared up             •   Decreased libido
      •     Sensitive to:
              
                   pain
              
                   Heat
              
                   Cold

Source : The National Center for PTSD
US Dept of Veterans Affairs

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Coping With a Disaster or Traumatic Event

  • 1. After Hurricane Sandy James Korman. PsyD, ACT Director Behavioral Health & Cognitive Therapy Center
  • 2. After Sandy • Common Reactions • What can be done about them • When to seek help
  • 3. Common Responses • Occur whenever exposed to or witness potentially life threatening events • Usually resolve in a matter of weeks or a few months
  • 4. Emotional Reactions • Shock • Helplessness • Terror • Loss of pleasure • Irritability • Difficulty feeling • Blame happy • • Emotional numbing Anger • • Grief or sadness Guilt • Vulnerability Source: The National Center for PTSD US Dept of Veterans Affairs
  • 5. Thinking Reactions • Problems with • Self-blame  Concentration • Intrusive  Making decisions thoughts/memories  Memory • Worry • Disbelief • Tunnel vision, • Confusion dreamlike or • Nightmares "spacey" feeling Source : The National Center for PTSD US Dept of Veterans Affairs
  • 6. Physical Reactions • Fatigue, exhaustion • Headaches • Insomnia • Stomach upset • Easily startled • Decreased appetite • Hyper or geared up • Decreased libido • Sensitive to:  pain  Heat  Cold Source : The National Center for PTSD US Dept of Veterans Affairs
  • 7. Interpersonal Reactions • Argumentative • Distrust • Social withdrawal • Over-protectiveness • • Impaired • Decreased work/school satisfaction performance Source : The National Center for PTSD US Dept of Veterans Affairs
  • 8. Resilience • Increased sense of what is important Family  Friends  Community  • Reduced reaction to daily problems • Improved coping • Improved view of the future Source: Academy of Cognitive Therapy
  • 9. What to do • Recognize reactions as normal • Develop and keep a routine • Keep perspective  What have you gained • Values • Coping • Family • Friends • Community  Keep a list and add to it Source: American Psychological Association
  • 10. What to do • Spend time with family and friends • Help someone else  Random acts of kindness • Bring coffee • Make a meal • Help with clean up • Volunteer • Donate • Do your hobbies/interests/exercise • Talk about it Source: American Psychological Association
  • 11. What not to do • Repeatedly watch/listen to news reports • Not speak about it • Isolate yourself • No major life changes if possible • Don’t try to escape thru  Drinking  Drugs  Burying oneself in work Source: American Psychological Association
  • 12. When should I Seek help • Not returning to normal after • Continually arguing with six weeks those close to you • No one to share your • Isolating yourself more and feelings with more • feel overwhelmed by • Work is suffering  sadness,  anxiety • Those around you suggest  nervousness you seek help • Having nightmares and • Drinking, smoking too much, cannot sleep or using drugs to cope with your feelings. Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • 13. Where to get Help  Treatment • SMG – Behavioral Health & Cognitive Therapy Center – 908-277-8900 • NJ Psychological Association – 973-243-9800 • Assoc Behavioral Cognitive Therapies – abct.org • Academy of Cognitive Therapy – Academyofct.org  Information • Redcross - www.redcross.org • CDC - http://emergency.cdc.gov • NIMH - www.nimh.nih