Coping and disaster recovery for the health care professional

During the recovery phase following the disaster, both you and your patients will continue to experience stress, grief, and perhaps even some symptoms of depression and anxiety. During this recovery phase, physical problems such as changes in sleep and appetite, digestive problems, more susceptibility to colds or other illnesses, and increased use of alcohol and other drugs are also common. We may also have emotional responses, such as fear, irritability, nightmares, difficulties concentrating, feelings of betrayal, and loss of interest in everyday activities.
What can you do to cope, and to facilitate patient coping, in your journey toward recovery from disaster? Here are some helpful suggestions:

Some patients will be resistant to these strategies and perceive you as suggesting that their struggles are “all in their heads.” Educating them with some easily understood techniques and examples will tend to diminish this perception.

Remember that people who engage fully in recovery from disaster discover unexpected benefits. As they gradually heal their wounds, survivors and health care providers alike find that they are also developing inner strength, compassion for others, increasing self-awareness, and -- often the most surprising -- a greater ability to experience joy and serenity than ever before.


Web Links

Stress Management for Patient and Physician

Common Responses to Trauma

Coping with Disasters

Become a Survivor

Tips for Survivors

Promoting Family Health after Disaster