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How To deal with emotional and psychological trauma after a natural disaster

Posted By Sara Hewitson On September 9, 2010 @ 2:15 pm In Natural Disasters | No Comments

A major natural disaster such as an earthquake causes significant impact-not just on a physical level, but also on an emotional level.

Any experience that threatens your life, safety or sense of security can cause emotional trauma. Knowing that the event could be triggered again can make your emotions, fears, bad memories and intense sense of impending danger more acute. The more fearful or powerless you feel, the more likely that that the event with have a traumatic impact.


If you are suffering from an emotional or psychological trauma, you may be experiencing some of these symptoms:

  • Fear, shock or anxiety
  • A constant feeling of being on ‘red alert’
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Denial, disbelief or a sense of being disconnected
  • Feeling agitated, anger or having mood swings
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Struggling to concentrate or feeling confused
  • Withdrawing from those around you
  • Difficulty sleeping, bad dreams
  • Being startled easily
  • Feeling constantly fatigued or tense

What’s important to understand is that your feelings are a normal reaction to what are extraordinary events. With the help of those around you, including treatment to aid recovery, you can recover from emotional or psychological trauma

Seeking help

The good news is that there is plenty of professional help and advice available so you don’t need to go through any emotional trauma alone. Yellow® [1] has a full list of all the services you need, including the Ministry of Health [2], or visit the NZ Ministry of Health website [3] direct. Talk to your local GP [4] who will advise on the best course of action to suit your needs to help you get through these tough times.

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