This is the second post in our series about mental health after disasters. Click here to read part 1.
No two humans will respond the same way to a disaster or other traumatic event. There are patterns and common reactions to be sure, but we all have unique life experiences that lead us to respond one way or another. After a disaster, many people will be fine and seem to resume their normal lives, but others may struggle. A person’s reactions to a traumatic event might occur immediately after an event, or they may take several months to a year to surface.
Keep an eye out for friends and family by paying attention to certain changes, including:
- Changes in sleeping patterns. Are they sleeping far more than normal or constantly complaining about fatigue? Are they complaining about not being able to sleep at all?
- Changes in emotional state. Do they seem to be “on edge” all the time? Do they say they feel powerless or helpless?
- Changes in habits- Have they stopped their normal routine? (Ex- no longer going to church, no longer attending grange meetings, etc.)
- Choosing negative coping strategies- Are they drinking more than normal? Are they engaging in risky behaviors?
Changes like these that last four weeks or more may be signs that someone is experiencing increased stress or anxiety after a traumatic event. You can help by letting the person know what you’ve noticed and share that you are concerned. Provide resources for local providers and let them know that crisis lines are available.
988: Call or text the Suicide and Crisis Prevention Lifeline to speak with a trained professional about suicidal thoughts or other crisis situations like panic attacks or severe anxiety.
741741: Text any word to this number to start a conversation with a trained professional who will listen and provide confidential support.
1-800-720-9616- The Ohio Careline is available by phone 24/7 and will connect you with a trained local professional who can provide emotional support and resources.