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Disasters Touch Everyone - Look Out For Signs Of Stress

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Release date: 
September 14, 2007
Release Number: 

FINDLAY, Ohio -- With many Ohio counties affected by recent flooding, the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) reminds individuals of the short and long-term effects of severe storms and flooding.

"No one who sees disaster is untouched by it," said ODMH Director Sandra Stephenson. "Grief, sadness, shock and anger are normal reactions to an abnormal event like the recent flooding. It's important for individuals and families to take steps to promote their own physical and emotional healing. Talk about what you are feeling with family and friends."

Stress caused by loss or a traumatic experience can sneak up on people, often appearing weeks or months following the initial trauma. Stress is often displayed in subtle but distressing behavior and emotions. The elderly and children are particularly vulnerable to stress after a disaster and may require special considerations.

Many people are likely to experience at least one of several emotional responses that affect health, emotions, and behavior. The State of Ohio and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed a list of things to look for and tips for helping others get through this difficult time.

Some individual signs of stress to look for include: 

  • Trouble concentrating or remembering things;
  • Difficulty making decisions;
  • Replaying the events and circumstances of the flood over and over in your mind;
  • Feeling depressed, sad or down much of the time;
  • Experiencing anxiety or fear, especially when things remind you of the flood;
  • Nightmares;
  • Having trouble sleeping; and
  • Feeling overwhelmed.

Some physical signs of stress are fatigue, chest pain and rapid heart beat.

Some behavioral signs of stress to look for are withdrawal and isolation, even from family and friends; restlessness; emotional outbursts and being easily startled.

Mental health experts suggest a number of ways to relieve the symptoms of stress following a disaster:

  • Friends and family are good medicine. Talk with them about your feelings. Sharing common experiences helps people deal with and overcome anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
  • Get back into your daily routines as soon as you can,
  • Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep.
  • Get some physical exercise every day. Walking is a great stress reliever and you can do it with a friend or relative.

Watch out for problems that are more than you can handle. If signs of stress are serious or if they persist, you should see a counselor or other mental health professional.

For more information about services available in your county, please contact your local behavioral health board:

Allen County and Hardin County
Mental Health & Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin Counties

Crawford County
Crawford-Marion Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services
419-562-7288 (Bucyrus) 740-387-8531 (Marion)

Hancock County
Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Hancock County

Putnam County
Mental Health Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Board of Putnam County

Richland County
Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board

Seneca County and Wyandot County
Mental Hea...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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