LEXINGTON, Ky. – Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky counties were affected by the May storms and flooding and the after-effects of this disaster may be felt long after the waters recede and recovery begins.
"No one who sees disaster is untouched by it,” said Debborah Arnold, Executive Director Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board. “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 worrying 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 Commonwealth of Kentucky and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed a list of things to look for and tips for helping yourself and others get through this difficult time.
Some common signs of stress are:
- 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.
- Having trouble sleeping.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs.
- Feeling overwhelmed.
Stress can manifest in physical sensations like fatigue, stomach aches or diarrhea, headaches, sweating or chills, chest pain, or a rapid heartbeat.
Changes in behavior also can signal that you are under stress. Do you withdraw or isolate yourself, even from family and friends? Are you restless or prone to emotional outbursts? Do you startle easily?
Some common-sense measures can help you overcome stress and get you back to yourself again. Remember:
- Friends and family are good medicine. Talk with them about your feelings. Sharing common experiences helps you 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.
- Find ways to relax. Do a fun thing after a difficult or stressful task.
- Get some physical exercise every day. Walking is a great stress reliever and you can do it with a friend or relative.
Know that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty or angry is common after a traumatic event. 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 Community Mental Health Center or the Kentucky Community Crisis Response Board toll free number 888-522-7228 or visit www.kccrb.ky.gov.