There are few things that have a greater impact on mankind than natural disasters. They affect our finances, homes, and in absolute worst case scenarios, take lives. One aspect that often gets overlooked is how natural disasters can influence our intimate relationships.
Maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones is tough enough without any outside factors influencing them. Many natural disasters can occur suddenly, leaving millions with limited time to prepare. The stress of an impending natural force like a hurricane, earthquake, volcanic eruption, flood, or forest fire is immense, but the aftermath can be extremely traumatic.
When a natural disaster concludes, the road to recovery is just getting started as we assess the damages. Loss of property, searching for displaced loved ones and possibly dealing with death are top priorities, but we often forget about the phycological aspect of recovery and how these traumatic experiences can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
When and where PTSD will set in will be is unpredictable. There is so much going on that it could take days, weeks, or months before someone realizes that they are suffering from psychological complications after a natural disaster. Not only can people in affected areas experience symptoms, but individuals with close family ties to disaster areas can experience symptoms as well. According to the American Psychological Association, symptoms of trauma can include the following:
- Intense and unpredictable emotions, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
- Flashbacks of traumatic events that induce physical reactions.
- Difficulty making decisions.
- Irregular sleeping or eating habits.
- Fear of repetitive trauma.
- Complications with interpersonal skills. A person may become withdrawn from others.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain can also be induced by psychological trauma.
Always keep in mind that physical and environmental damages aren't the only things left in the wake of a natural disaster. Picking up the pieces psychologically is equally as important. Seeking professional help after a traumatic natural disaster is recommended.