Health Report: How to cope with earthquake anxiety

Published: Dec. 4, 2018 at 8:52 PM AKST
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Around the state, particularly in the Southcentral region, people are experiencing the effects of the November 30 earthquake and the aftershocks that have followed. We took a deeper look into the tremors of 'earthquake anxiety' in this week's health report.

"I've had kind of a vertigo ever since," said Anchorage resident Justin Jones.

A variety of emotions, such as anxiety and stress, impact many people after experiencing a natural disaster.

"And I've been really anxious when I go to sleep at night," he said.

In Southcentral, residents have been living through the residual effects of aftershocks following Friday's earthquake, leaving some on edge with the stress of the unexpected.

"Every time I close my eyes, another aftershock would hit and I would just be wide awake again. So for the last couple of nights I've been sleeping with my clothes on and shoes by my bed ready to go in case I need to get out of the house again," he said.

Anchorage resident Justin Jones, says that after the Earthquake, it has left him feeling tired and stressed. The lack of sleep and high anxiety, along with the feeling of dizziness, has taken a toll on his body. John DeRuyter is a psychologist in Fairbanks. He spoke about some of the reasons why people have mixed emotions after experiencing any unforeseen event.

"Our communities, those are the things that get destroyed or disrupted. And so not only do you not have any control over it, the event is destroying, disrupting or perhaps certainly damaging that which you depend on for you security. That's why the anxiety around natural disasters is so high," he said.

DeRuyter says earthquakes can happen fast, leaving some people feeling helpless at times.

"They don't have a plan, they don't know what to do. They may not have resources. They easiest way to work around those or to help those, or help a person through, that is to help them develop a plan forward that accommodates the resources that they have," he said.

"People are unnerved. Peoples nerves are shot, but every body's trying to stick together to help each other out, and that's one good thing about Alaskans, you know, anything major happened were always there to help each other out," Jones said.

DeRyter and Jones believe one of the best ways to cope with the anxiety is by connecting with people who share similar experiences.

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