Natural disasters include such events as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires and tsunamis. Often these events are unexpected, sudden and overwhelming.
Even when you’re not hurt physically, disasters can take a serious emotional toll. Normal reactions include intense, unpredictable feelings; flashbacks; trouble concentrating or making decisions; disrupted eating and sleeping patterns; emotional upsets on anniversaries or other reminders; strained personal relationships; and physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea or chest pain.
Adapted from the APA Help Center article, "Recovering emotionally from disaster."
Coping with Disaster
Managing traumatic stress: After a tornado
The effects of the recent tornadoes can be long-lasting and the resulting trauma can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the disaster.
Tornadoes, hurricanes and children
The intense feelings that often follow a disaster can be especially hard for children, but there are several things parents and other caregivers can do to help.
Disasters & Terrorism
Disasters are often unexpected, sudden and overwhelming. Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can help you cope.
What psychologists do on disaster relief operations
Psychologists don’t offer therapy at disaster sites. Instead, they help survivors build on their internal strengths to start the process of recovery.
How Psychologists Help
- Find a Psychologist
FAQ for APA response to international disasters
Information about APA's response to the international disasters, including web-based psychological resources, aiding the United Nations, fielding media inquiries, and donating to the American Red Cross.
Resources Helpful to Psychologists
A list of international and national organizations dedicated to disaster mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Disaster Mental Health Training Opportunities
Links to training opportunities for both licensed mental health professionals, as well as anyone interested in disaster mental health.
Humanitarian Organizations Active in International Disaster Response
A list of humanitarian organizations active in international disaster response.
Psychology in Spanish
A list of links to psychology resources in Spanish, including some related to dealing with natural disasters.
Related APA Publications
What the weather may be doing to your health
July 9, 2015, U.S. News & World Report
APA Offices and Programs
Disaster Response Network
APA's Disaster Response Network is a group of approximately 2,500 licensed psychologists across the U.S. and Canada who have expertise in the psychological impact of disasters on individuals, families and communities. Informed by psychological research, Disaster Response Network members voluntarily engage in preparedness, response and recovery activities.
Trans-World Resource Network:
a Clearinghouse for Disaster Response Resources
APA's Trans-Wrold Clearinghouse provides disaster-related psychological resources and information about effective ongoing disaster-response initiatives and pee-reviewed research on disaster response and prevention.
APA Statement on the Role of Psychologists in International Emergencies
This statement is intended to orient psychologists to effective disaster response contributions. It is based on international guidelines for psychosocial intervention, on guidance from APA’s Disaster Response Network and its Committee on International Relations in Psychology.
Resolution on The Psychological Needs of Children Exposed to Disasters
APA's Council of Representatives has declared the development and implementation of a national strategy to prevent and treat the psychological dysfunction resulting from exposure of children and their families to disasters a matter of the highest priority, and supports the establishment of policies to maintain their psychological well-being.