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Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- As the hundreds of thousands San Diegans flee the flames, they're trying to make sense of what happened and deal with the stress of the situation. These wildfires have created a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for those directly and indirectly affected. In the days and weeks to come, many may begin to have some of these common reactions:

Common Reactions

-- Disbelief and shock

-- Fear and anxiety about the future

-- Disorientation; difficulty making decisions or concentrating

-- Apathy and emotional numbing

-- Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event

-- Irritability and anger

-- Sadness and depression

-- Feeling powerless

-- Changes in eating patterns; loss of appetite or overeating

-- Crying for "no apparent reason"

-- Headaches, back pains and stomach problems

-- Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep

-- Increased use of alcohol and drugs

Tips for Coping

Mental Health America wants those affected to know it is 'normal' to have difficulty managing their feelings after major traumatic events. However, if they don't deal with the stress, it can be harmful to their mental and physical health. Here are some tips for coping during this difficult time:

-- Talk about it. By talking with others about the disaster, you can

relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.

-- Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this

tough time. If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by

phone. If you have any children, encourage them to share their concerns

and feelings about the disaster with you.

-- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and exercise, and eat

properly. If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake, since

nicotine and caffeine can also add to your stress.

-- Limit exposure to images

SOURCE Mental Health America of San Diego County
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