A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

Trauma tips from the American Psychological Association

As days pass since the start of the North Bay firestorms, people face a long emotional and physical recovery process. PC Ali Benzerara.

Understanding normal responses to extreme circumstances after surviving a wildfire can help with recovery.

It is normal for Individuals affected to first experience shock and denial.

  • Moods can be unpredictable. You might experience symptoms of depression.
  • Emotions, thoughts and behavior might be affected. You could experience flashbacks and nightmares of the fire with no warning. This could cause sweating and raised heart rate.
  • Personal relationships might be strained, especially if you are in an evacuation center.
  • Some extreme stress can cause headaches, nausea, chest pain and more. You might need medical attention for these side effects.

Ways to help yourself and your family

  • Allow yourself time to adjust.
  • Ask for support from people close to you. Realize that if they are also recovering from the fire, they might not be able to help you as much as usual.
  • Take breaks from the news.
  • Find out about local support groups for wildfire victims.
  • Implement healthy behaviors for yourself, such as eating at regular times, exercising if you can, and schedule breaks for self-care.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can suppress your feelings and make it more difficult to cope, or they can cause physical pain.
  • Avoid making major life decisions during this time, such as switching jobs, relationship decisions or making large purchases.

Helping children with special needs

  • Spend more time with them and let them depend on you for the first few months.
  • Provide play experiences, including non-verbal activities like drawing, in order to relieve stress.
  • Encourage older children to speak with you and with each other about their experience
  • Keep regular schedules for activities like eating, playing and bedtime.
  • Limit how much children see the trauma on the news.

Some people can cope with the effects of trauma from surviving a wildfire, and some people might experience ongoing serious problems. The emotional and physical effects can interfere with relationships and work. Individuals with prolonged reactions should consult a mental health professional.

More information can be found online from the American Psychological Association.

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