Anxiety and Natural Disasters

Health Writer

This summer has brought its share of natural disasters. From wildfires in California to floods in the Midwest to the massive earthquake in China, millions of people in the United States and across the world have been impacted. For those with an anxiety disorder, these natural disasters can be triggers to anxiety and panic attacks as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

There are a few tips for coping with a natural disaster to minimize the effect on your anxiety disorder:

  • Balance your intake of information on the disaster. Listen to the news to find out new information and keep apprised of the situation. However, don't inundate yourself with information. Additionally, make sure the information you are receiving is from a reliable source. Don't take rumors as fact. Find out where the information is coming from and whether it is credible enough to act upon or if you need to take the time to double check the news you have heard.
  • Create a network of people you can talk with. Natural disasters often bring feelings of anxiousness, anger or depression. This is normal. You are not alone in trying to find ways to cope. Talk with friends, relatives and neighbors. Discussing the situation and finding solutions to how it has impacted your life will help you to best cope.
  • Although strong feelings are normal during a natural disaster, if symptoms of anxiety or depression become overwhelming, contact a medical professional for help in coping with the situation.
  • Natural disasters remind us that there are many parts of our life we have no control over. Lives and personal property can be destroyed or damaged within moments. To help maintain some routine in your life, take control of what you can. Stay out of areas hit by the natural disaster. Remain in a safe area. Reach out to help other people that may have suffered losses to help keep perspective of what you still have in your life.
  • Reach out and help the children in your life cope with the disaster. Keep lines of communication open while helping them to understand that the disaster will pass. It is important for them to understand the danger that is involved, such as staying in safe areas, but try to avoid overreacting and causing them additional stress.
  • Keep in mind that although feelings of anxiousness, depression and anger are normal, both during and after natural disasters. These feelings should diminish, however, once the disaster has passed and routine has been restored to your life. If these feelings persist, you may want to talk with your doctor.