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Understanding the emotions and normal responses that follow a disaster or other traumatic event can help you cope with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours.

Disasters such as our region’s devastating flooding; are typically unexpected, sudden, and overwhelming. For many people, there are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury, but there can be nonetheless a heavy emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced disaster to have strong emotional reactions. Understanding responses to distressing events can help you cope effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.
What are common reactions and responses to disaster?

Following disaster, people frequently feel stunned, disoriented, or unable to fit in distressing information. Once these initial reactions subside, people can experience a variety of thoughts and behaviours. Common responses can be:

So how do I cope?

Fortunately, research shows that most people are resilient and over time are able to bounce back from tragedy. It is common for people to experience stress in the immediate aftermath, but within a few months most people can resume functioning as they did before the disaster. It is important to remember that resilience and recovery are the norm, not prolonged distress.

When should I seek professional help?

If you notice persistent feelings of distress or hopelessness and you feel like you are barely able to get through your daily responsibilities and activities, consult with your general practitioner. Lifeline is available on 13 11 14, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Lifeline provides compassionate support for people in crisis. No judgement. No conditions. No agenda. Just a human connection to help people get through their darkest moments. Connecting with trained professionals can help people address emotional reactions to disasters such as disbelief, stress, anxiety, and grief and plan for moving forward.

Help with Gambling Harm

We know that when disasters strike, people may find themselves pursuing addictive behaviour to support their coping. Gambling harm is relatively common in the context of trauma and occur frequently with post traumatic mental health concerns. They are known to increase following a disaster, as people attempt to distract themselves from accumulating stressors, and when usual routines and coping strategies have been disrupted, we know from experience; this potential and negative coping strategy can be harmful for anyone’s long term coping. Help is at hand.

Gambling and Financial Counselling

No matter how you’re affected by gambling – whether you’re worried about your own or someone else’s gambling, GambleAware are right here for you. Our service is a free, confidential service that assists gamblers and their families in NSW.

Financial Counselling supports people affected by gambling harm, by helping to address their financial problems, manage debt and navigate out of financial crisis. Counsellors can provide direct case work or one-on-one intensive support, including the provision of information, advocacy, and referral to other relevant services for support.

We are here to assist with a range of therapeutic, financial counselling, and support services that can be accessed by phone, online, and face-to-face. All services are free and confidential. We will be in your area.

GambleAware Mid and Northern NSW. Your local gambling support service. Locations include Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Lismore, Port Macquarie & Tweed Heads. To make an appointment call 02 6651 4093 or email

Further information can be found on our website. GambleAware Mid and Northern NSW. Your local gambling support service.

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