Natural Disaster Trauma
Natural disaster trauma results from earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes, forest fires, floods, volcanic eruptions, landslides, or tsunamis. These types of experiences are particularly insidious because they tend to traumatize large populations of people at once, and can result in epidemics of Survivor Guilt and other PTSD symptoms.
Like many causes of trauma, natural disasters can be sudden and overwhelming. The most immediate and typical reaction to a calamity is shock, which at first manifests as numbness or denial. Quickly—or eventually—shock can give way to an overemotional state that often includes high levels of anxiety, guilt or depression.
People might have lost their loved ones or their homes. As a result they may feel helpless, they may have to live in camps or shelters without support from relatives or friends for extended time periods. However, living with other survivors can also be a time to reconnect, talk about the event with others, and help to reframe the event. Being able to help another survivor can reduce helplessness, and may start the healing process.
Natural disasters in particular can bring victims a feeling of being betrayed by “their god,” which can result in a loss of faith. Making peace with “the divine” might be one step toward healing and gaining faith (which can be crucial to health) back.
According to the American Psychological Association, the following are common symptoms of trauma:
- Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression are coming manifestations of this.
- Flashbacks: repeated and vivid memoriesof the event that lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
- Confusion or difficulty making decisions
- Sleepor eating issues
- Fearthat the emotional event will be repeated
- A change in interpersonal relationships skills, such as an increase in conflict or a more withdrawn and avoidant personality
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain
It’s hard to predict when PTSD will set in with a survivor of a traumatic natural disaster. Some victims seem at first perfectly (or even abnormally) fine, only to be beset with symptoms later on.
In general, survivors of natural disasters are recommended to seek professional guidance if they find themselves unable to regain control of their lives or if they continue to suffer from PTSD symptoms for more than a month.
Additionally, victims do not need to have experienced the disaster firsthand in order to be psychologically affected. It’s very important with natural disaster trauma that the victim gives himself time to heal and pass through an appropriate mourning process. Only by processing the experience over a realistic period of time is healing possible.
Treating Trauma at Milestones
At Milestones at Onsite, we want you to know that we stand behind you one hundred percent. We want to support you and walk with you into your recovery. We believe in unconditional love and provide a safe environment for you to do the work that has been needed for a long time. We are here to help and we’d be honored to have the opportunity to show up for you and help you discover joy in your life.