Skip to Main Content

Office of Mental Health

Disaster Resources Home |  Emergency Mental Health Resources

The Long-term Impact of a Traumatic Event:
What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life

View Adobe Acrobat Version | Download Adobe Acrobat Reader

The impact of a disaster or traumatic event goes far beyond the immediate devastation caused by the initial destruction. Just as it takes time to reconstruct damaged buildings, it takes time to grieve and rebuild our lives. Life may not return to normal for months, or even years, following a disaster or traumatic event. There may be changes in living conditions that cause changes in day-to-day activities, leading to strains in relationships, changes in expectations, and shifts in responsibilities. These disruptions in relationships, roles, and routines can make life unfamiliar or unpredictable.

A disaster or traumatic event can have far-reaching effects in several major areas of our lives, making rebuilding our emotional lives extremely difficult. However, sometimes just knowing what to expect can help ease the transition back to a normal life. As you and your family begin to rebuild your lives, you may face any or all of the situations described below:

Personal Uncertainties

Family Relationship Changes

Work Disruptions

Financial Worries

How to Be a Survivor

Regardless of individual circumstances, everyone needs to complete several steps on the road to recovery from a disaster or traumatic event:

You and your family have survived a traumatic event. That doesn't mean your lives are over or that you don't deserve to be happy again. Return to doing things you enjoy with friends and as a family. Reestablish the routines of your life. Make commitments and keep them.

If you or a member of your family still have trouble coping on your own, ask for help. Consult a counselor or mental health professional. In the workplace, you may be able to get assistance from your human resources department or your company's Employee Assistance Program. For help with financial matters, contact a financial advisor.