• How to Cope With Disaster: Tips for Adults

    Image for increased anxiety article Each person's response to a traumatic event is different; people experience stress and anxiety in their own way. Responses to disaster can appear right away or months later. Most importantly though, know you are not alone in your pain and that there is help.

    Responses to Disaster

    The following are some common responses to disaster:
    • Disbelief and shock
    • Fear and anxiety
    • Disorientation
    • 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

    Some tips to help deal with the stress, pain, and anxiety associated with coping with disasters:
    • 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.
    • Stay informed. Not knowing what is happening may increase stress or anxiety. Use reliable sources of information to keep up with the situation.
    Seek professional help if you are troubled by feelings that will not go away for more than 4-6 weeks. If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, seek help right away.


    Mental Health America http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

    National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov


    Canadian Psychiatric Association http://www.cpa-apc.org

    Canadian Psychological Association http://www.cpa.ca


    Coping with disaster. Federal Emergency Management Agency website. Available at: http://www.fema.gov/coping-disaster. Updated February 28, 2017. Accessed August 22, 2017.

    Coping with disaster. National Mental Health Association website. Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/coping-disaster. Accessed August 22, 2017.

    Coping with a disaster or a traumatic event. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://emergency.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.asp. Updated October 26, 2016. Accessed August 22, 2017.

    Revision Information

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.