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Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event

An event, or series of events, that causes moderate to severe stress reactions, is called a traumatic event.  Traumatic events are characterized by a sense of horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death.  Traumatic events affect survivors, rescue workers, and friends and relatives of victims who have been directly involved.  In addition to potentially affecting those who suffer injuries or loss, they may also affect people who have witnessed the event either firsthand or on television. Stress reactions immediately following a traumatic event are very common, however, most of the reactions will resolve within ten days.

The effects of a disaster, terrorist attack, or other public health emergency can be long-lasting, and the resulting trauma can reverberate even with those not directly affected by the disaster.  This section provides general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience.

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