Quick References

Disaster Psychology – Are You Mentally Ready for the Aftermath?

As preppers, we often think about getting through a disaster and being able to do it with some comfort and certainly without many needs. That’s the whole point of prepping, after all. What is rarely considered or even discussed among the prepping community, however, is the need to be ready for the mental aftermath of a disaster.

After all, a disaster (even if you’re not directly affected) is a traumatic event that WILL elicit a variety of normal emotional responses. In fact, you or loved ones may experience a traumatic stress reaction that can occur immediately following the event or perhaps weeks later. As such, it helps to know a few warning signs.

Warning Signs

[As taken directly from the New Jersey Bergen County Police Emergency Management Handout]


  • Nausea and/or upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping


  • Anxiety and/or fear
  • Guilt
  • Grief and/or depression
  • Anger


  • Nightmares
  • Confusion and/or disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating


  • Avoidance and/or withdrawing
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Erratic behavior

Taking Care of Yourself and Others

[As taken directly from the New Jersey Bergen County Police Emergency Management Handout]

Taking care of yourself following a traumatic event . . .

  • Try to rest a bit more
  • Contact friends and talk
  • Re-establish your normal schedule as soon as possible
  • Fight against boredom
  • Physical activity can be helpful
  • Eat well-balanced and regular meals (even when you don’t feel like it)
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs taken without physician recommendation/prescription
  • Recurring thoughts, dreams or flashbacks are normal – don’t try to fight them – they’ll decrease over time and be less painful
  • Seek out professional help if the feelings become prolonged or intense

Taking care of others following a traumatic event . . .

  • Listen carefully
  • Spend time with the traumatized person
  • Offer your assistance and a listening ear even if they have not asked for help
  • Help them with everyday tasks like cleaning, cooking, caring for children etc . . .
  • Give them time to be alone
  • Help them stay away from alcohol and drugs
  • Keep in mind what they’ve been through
  • Don’t try to explain it away
  • Don’t tell them that they are lucky it wasn’t worse
  • Don’t take their anger, other feelings or outbursts personally

Get further assistance if . .

  • The person is having life-threatening symptoms
  • The person is suicidal or homicidal
  • The person is out of control
The main thing to remember is that such emotions are a normal reaction to an abnormal event. Expect such reactions, learn to recognize them in yourself and others, and be willing to seek out help if need be.

Note: The original PDF file may be downloaded here.
And, if you’re interested, here’s a rather lengthy video of CERT training to deal with such psychology issues:

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