Disasters at work can be unexpected and overwhelming. For many workers, there may be an emotional toll, even if there are no outward signs of physical injury. While everyone has a different reaction to stressful events, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress are very common.
Common Reactions and Responses
According to the American Psychological Association, in the aftermath of a disaster, it’s normal to feel disoriented or unable to fully process what happened. Other common reactions include:

  • Intense or unpredictable feelings: You may find yourself feeling unexpectedly emotional or anxious. Or you might feel more irritable.
  • Changes to your normal thoughts or behavior patterns: Disruptions to your appetite and sleep are normal and you may have vivid memories of the event.
  • Sensitivity to environmental factors: You may be more sensitive to stimuli around you like bright lights, crowds or loud noises. Encountering these environmental factors may make you feel anxiety or as if the disaster is going to happen again.
  • Strained interpersonal relationships: Withdrawing more from social gatherings or loved ones can be common. You may also feel more on edge or snippy, resulting in more conflict with people you encounter daily.
  • Stress related physical symptoms: You may experience physical symptoms like nausea, stomach pains or exacerbation of existing medical conditions.

How to Cope
To cope with all of these reactions, you should give yourself time to adjust. Ask for support from friends and family or anyone you know who will listen with empathy and caring. Communicate your experience through talking to friends, writing about your experience or even creating art. You should also engage in other healthy behaviors to help cope with your stress, like healthy eating, rest, using relaxation techniques like meditation and creating positive routines, like going for a daily walk or participating in a hobby. It may also be a good idea to avoid making major life decisions at the moment.
Seek Professional Help
If you have persistent feelings of distress or hopelessness or if you feel barely able to get through the day, it may be time to seek professional help. Ask your doctor for a referral for a therapist or support group, or contact a licensed mental health provider.
At the Petro Law Firm, we hope that you never encounter a workplace disaster. But if you do, we’re here to help. If you are injured and you need legal assistance, please call us at (205) 327-8311.