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Take measures to fight stress in emergency

The Lower North Fork Fire in southwest Jefferson County has caused the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes and anxiety for many. As a nonprofit community mental health center, we are working in close collaboration with the Red Cross and other agencies to provide support during this difficult time. A crisis situation like the recent fire can have an emotional impact. For many adults and children who have been displaced or experienced a loss due to the fire, as well as the thousands who have received pre-evacuation notices, there can be some normal responses to a difficult situation such as this, including

Fear, uncertainty, apprehension, anxiety and worry

Strong need for information, sometimes need for answers when they are not yet available

Feeling irritable, tense, angry or resentful

Trouble sleeping

Feeling "scattered" and unable to focus; difficulty making decisions

Depressed, crying

Feeling powerless

We can help each other deal with the responses to this crisis:

Reach out and talk to those who you trust and love for support — other family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, spiritual advisor.

Explain the facts that you know about the situation to your child. Listen to your child, his/her fears and how he/she feels. Reassure your child often.

Eat regular, nutritional meals — food low in fat, sodium and simple sugar. Your body uses up vitamin B, vitamin C and calcium during stress, so increase your foods or vitamins to replenish.

Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine — caffeine causes a stress response and it is not recommended when already under stress. Alcohol is a depressant and does not help you feel better.

Remind yourself that the symptoms you or others are experiencing are ordinary reactions to an unordinary event. Realize that the stress response has a physical effect on you, and different people respond differently.

Exercise and drink plenty of water. Get plenty of sleep.

Simplify your plans. There is nothing more important right now than taking care of yourself and your loved ones.If you are concerned about your reaction or that of a family member, call Jefferson Center for Mental Health. Our emergency line is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, at 303-425-0300.

Jeanne Oliver

Public information officer

Jefferson Center for Mental Health

Wheat Ridge

Jeanne Oliver
April 06, 2012

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