It’s hard not to have some type of emotional reaction after watching multiple videos of the tsunami in Japan that killed so many people and uprooted others.
Even news anchors talk about how devastating it is to see the floods of water sweep so quickly over the land, with close-up shots of vehicles attempting to escape the water soon to envelop them. Those vehicles had people inside them who are now in another place.
The average person sees natural disasters on the news all the time, but the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were so surprising and devastating that it has caught the attention of the world, and some experts have advice for coping after these natural disasters.
There are three main groups of people who are reacting to the natural disasters in Japan: people in Japan who survived the tsunami; people not directly affected but whose family members were affected (or maybe friends, homes, etc. were lost); and those who weren’t directly affected themselves or whose friends/family weren’t affected, but are sympathetic to those who are suffering.
Anthony Ng, a medical director at Acadia Hospital in Maine and a psychiatrist who specializes in natural disasters, said that hearing about natural disasters in other places can trigger emotional reactions, especially for people who have personally been in that situation themselves.
“I think a big piece is obviously there’s nothing you can do to prevent it,” Ng said. “For people who live in the earthquake zone … I think they’ve been taught to do at least some preparation, which helps alleviate some anxiety.”
In general, he said people should turn to others for support and talk about the natural disaster, as well as get back into a normal routine. Most people don't have abnormal reactions if they weren't directly involved, but if they do they can see a psychologist about coping.
For those who are directly affected by natural disasters, like people in Japan, there are somewhat different focuses on coping with emotional reactions.
Ng pointed out that people in Japan have a different way of coping with natural disasters than people in other countries.