Disaster Psychology

Your Emotional Needs 

After a disaster everyone is picking up the pieces and trying to get life back to normal as soon as possible. It is important to be aware of your emotional needs as well. Be aware, disaster may cause highly emotional responses among family members. Normal responses may include: 

  • Anxiety, restlessness, irritability, fear 
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions 
  • Disorientation 
  • Fatigue 
  • Numbness, apathy, or depression 
  • Sleep disturbance 


You can reduce the emotional impact of a disaster by being prepared. Practice your evacuation plans. Make sure your supplies are in order and emergency contact information is up to date. You can’t take away the feeling of shock after a disaster, but you can reduce the feeling that everything is out of control. For additional information, please view our Emergency Preparedness webpage. 


After you and your family are out of danger, sit down together and collect yourselves. Limit family discussion to today's needs. Avoid discussions of long-term issues of recovering from the disaster.

Mental Health Survival Tips

  • Accept help from others
  • Don't stay by yourself if you can avoid it
  • Notice positives: Don't blame
  • Stay calm and assured
  • Talk about your feelings

For Your Long-Term Adjustment

  • Allow yourself to cry
  • Avoid excessive alcohol / drugs
  • Get some exercise
  • Seek counseling if you continue to feel depressed, anxious or debilitated

Note: The above information is provided courtesy of the American Red Cross Oregon Trail Chapter from their "Be Aware and Prepare Before a Disaster Strikes" program, a Prepare Oregon Campaign. 

Additional Resources