How to Take Care of Your Emotional Health During a Disaster

Information from the CDC on taking care of your emotional health during a disaster.
A few steps that you can follow:

  • Take care of your body.
  • Connect with others.
  • Take breaks.
  • Stay informed.
  • Avoid too much exposure to the news.
  • Seek help when needed.

Common signs of distress to look for:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.

Research on how disasters impact mental health

Research titled Disaster and its impact on mental health: A narrative review from The National Library of Medicine concluded,

“Emotional instability, stress reactions, anxiety, trauma and other psychological symptoms are observed commonly after the disaster and other traumatic experiences. These psychological effects have a massive impact on the concerned individual and also on communities.

Resilience plays a vital role and acts as an effective measure. Most affected individuals recover with time, with the help of effective post-intervention techniques and their individual strengths. In some cases, recovery is incomplete leading to a number of persistent psychotic symptoms which are often severe in nature.

PTSD is the most frequently encountered along with anxiety, depression and other behavioural and psychological abnormalities. PTSD often comorbid with a variety of psychiatric symptoms like unnecessary fear, hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness and other physical symptoms which leads to the deterioration of their mental health.”

Makwana N. Disaster and its impact on mental health: A narrative review. J Family Med Prim Care. 2019 Oct 31;8(10):3090-3095. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_893_19. PMID: 31742125; PMCID: PMC6857396.

* If you are experiencing these feelings or behaviors for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them, seek professional help. *
There is further information and additional resources on CDC’s website, here.

Distress scale (Free download)

Are You Feeling Distress?: Rate your level of distress

Self-care assessment (Free download)

Self-Care Assessment

Lifelines and important resources

Emergency Contacts, Lifelines, and Suicide Prevention Information and Resources

Mental Health Support and Lifelines

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