Multiple Disasters Taking Their Toll

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

October 19, 2005

If the news of recent natural disasters and rising death tolls is really beginning to get under your skin, you're not alone.

For weeks now it has been the focus of newscasts and newspapers across the country and even the world.

Experts believe the news of one unexpected disaster happening after another is taking its toll.

"People are experiencing an increase in stress and in fear; it's harder for people to feel relaxed within themselves, within their home, within their family, within their community," said Clinical Psychologist Dr. Beverly K. Joyce.

Dr. Joyce believes events like the recent earthquake in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina, the war in Iraq, and the deaths associated with them, can make it hard for people to manage stress and feel safe.

"Of course you worry because it's a disruption of your life, but you can't do anything about it but try to cope the best way you can," said local resident Retta Noto.

Coping mechanisms include talking about your feelings, eating healthy foods, exercising and limiting your exposure.

"We should be concerned about everybody all the time, but maybe not paralyzed," said local resident Roger Evans. "In Asia they've just been having horrible things. Should I be less worried because they're not Americans? You know, where do you draw the line?"

Dr. Joyce encourages people to get involved with relief efforts, but shares a harsh reality. "We experience our own suffering in response to other people's suffering, and yet we need to get on with our lives," she explained.

Experts say if you're feeling depressed or overwhelmed due to news of recent disasters and deaths, you might want to consider speaking with a counselor or psychologist.

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