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 ST. LOUIS, Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The disaster and trauma of the flood can trigger periods of excess stress, inhibiting a person's ability to function normally, according to Margaret Brennecke, Ph.D., a local expert in the field of counseling and executive director of United Behavioral Systems, St. Louis (11710 Old Ballas Rd.).
 A flood is the most traumatic of all natural disasters. People experience many losses. For some, all of their possessions and investments have been destroyed. When the reality of the losses sink in, people tend to feel hopeless, angry and depressed.
 For those who are already suffering from depression, domestic abuse, problems between parents and children, or a painful divorce, the strain of a disaster can seem impossible. As a result, domestic abuse often becomes more frequent, and family tensions can heighten.
 People need to be reminded that solutions do exist, and help is available. Unfortunately, many crisis counseling centers do not offer advice on coping with disaster.
 Brennecke offers these tips for successfully handling the stress of the flood:
 -- Don't deny the impact. Often times, during and after a stressful event, individuals involved deny the impact it has on themselves and others. To effectively cope with the event, it's important to recognize and acknowledge that you are experiencing an emotional reaction. Remember, it's okay to feel bad.
 -- Don't take stress out on others. During stressful periods, it is easy to direct the frustration or anger at family members. It is best not to take the stress out on one another. The whole family is under stress. Sharing your feelings with one another about what you are experiencing can help relieve some of the tension and frustration.
 -- Help the children cope. Your children may find this time especially difficult. You can help them cope by:
 -- spending time together
 -- playing together
 -- encouraging them to talk about their feelings
 -- reassuring them and being honest about how you feel
 -- giving them the emotional support they need -- before their

behavior becomes negative in reaction to the stress.
 -- Take care of yourself. Taking good care of yourself physically is important during this difficult time. Be sure to maintain a balanced diet, including rest and exercise. Try to establish a steady routine as soon as possible.
 -- Don't use drugs or alcohol as an escape. Avoid drinking excessively and/or using drugs as a way to deal with the stressful situation.
 -- Don't be afraid to seek help. If your reaction to the flood and the impact it has had on your life is troubling you -- to the point of affecting your work performance -- don't be afraid to talk to your supervisor. Talk about what you are experiencing, so he/she doesn't think you are just not doing your job. If you continue to be troubled, contact your company's employee assistance program or a local counseling organization. These programs have people who can listen to your concerns and guide you to the appropriate resources for help.
 Brennecke also cautions people to be aware of several typical symptoms of temporary stress overload. These include:
 -- confusion
 -- anxiety
 -- anger
 -- fatigue
 -- sleep disturbance
 -- irritability
 -- helplessness
 -- depression
 Source: United Behavioral Systems (UBS) of St. Louis is a mental health and substance abuse service subsidiary of United HealthCare Corporation (NYSE: UNH). UBS serves over 2 million individuals nationwide through its direct clinical services, utilization review and case management programs.
 -0- 8/3/93
 /CONTACT: Margaret Brennecke, Ph.D., executive director of United Behavioral Systems, 314-995-4700, or Diana Campau, public relations of United HealthCare Corp, 612-936-3649/

CO: United Behavioral Systems; United HealthCare Corporation ST: Missouri IN: HEA SU:

DB -- MN010 -- 9393 08/04/93 12:52 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 4, 1993

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