What Survivors Need to Know

Adapted from Carlson & Ruzek, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/

  • Traumas happen to many competent, healthy, strong, good people. No one can completely protect him- or herself from highly stressful experiences.

  • Most people recover from traumatic experiences such as a disaster and go on to lead healthy and happy lives. Some, however, might have some long-lasting problems following exposure to trauma. Up to 8% of individuals will have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD: a psychological problem that needs professional help) at some time in their lives.

  • People who react to traumas are not going crazy. They are experiencing symptoms and problems that are connected with having been in a traumatic situation such as a disaster.

  • Having symptoms after a highly stressful event such as a disaster is not a sign of personal weakness. Many psychologically well-adjusted and physically healthy people develop PTSD or have reactions that are difficult to handle. Probably everyone would develop a severe reaction like PTSD if they were exposed to a severe enough situation.

  • When a person understands post-disaster stress symptoms better, he or she can become less fearful of them and better able to manage them.

  • By recognizing the effects that experiencing a disaster can have on a person and knowing more about the symptoms, a person is better able to decide about getting treatment or how to help him/herself.