Understanding and coping with the emotional impact of a flood

Everyone will act differently to an event like a flood but some of the reactions you, your family or neighbours may experience are:

  • Shock
  • Helplessness
  • Frustration
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Disbelief
  • Stress
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Low mood and depression
  • Anger

These reactions are completely normal considering the event you have recently experienced. We are all individuals and there is no right or wrong way to be coping or feeling. We all have different ways of responding in such situations.

Ways of coping and helping yourself

  • Rest and be with those who are important to you and take time to reflect on what has happened
  • Don’t bottle feelings up, talk to family and friends about how you feel
  • Keep a routine.  Although this isn’t always possible, trying to keep to your regular daily activities can help stay busy and channel your emotions.
  • You can make a list or plan the next few weeks.  This can help calm down anxious feelings of getting back to normal.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings, drawing and games can be good way for children to express themselves
  • Don’t take on too much or make any major life changes
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and drugs.  They are often used as a way of coping but they tend to block the feelings that will emerge in the end.
  • You know yourself and the people you love best, so are best placed to decide what works for you

The following weeks and months

Many people will experience anxiety or low mood.  For most, especially those who have never experienced these problems before, these will gradually disappear over time and with support from family, friends and your local community.

  • A period of ‘watchful waiting’ is advised, which means just keeping an eye on yourself and others and checking out how things are going, before assuming that any reactions won’t go away on their own with time
  • Research and local experience tells us a small number of people go on to experience problems that require additional help, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic worry

Who can help

If you feel your responses to the flood are difficult to manage, are not getting better or are starting to interfere with your daily life, help is available.  Getting help can be the best thing for you.  A first step could be to speak to your doctor.  The services below focus specifically on psychological health and wellbeing.  These services won’t be able to help with the physical effects of the flood.

If you are in immediate danger always call the emergency services on 999.

Mind provides support and counselling for mental health and trauma.  Call 08088 020288 (Mon to Fri 4pm to 12am, weekends 10am to 12am)

Wellbeing Norfolk & Waveney is an NHS service providing help for adults suffering depression or anxiety.  Various drop-in clinics are available.  Call 0300 123 1503 (Mon to Fri, 8am - 8pm)

Samaritans provide confidential emotional support for people who are distressed and experiencing suicidal feelings.  Call 116 123 (24 hours a day)

National Flood Forum supports and represents flood risk communities.  Call 01299 403 055 (Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm)

The Silver Line offers confidential helpline for older people offering information, advice and friendship. Call 0800 470 8090 (24 hours a day)

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