Adrenaline Fatigue After a Disaster

There is information that is being shared about the mood and spirit of almost every person directly affected by major disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, blizzards and other weather related events.

The concept is that persons directly affected by or significantly impacted by storms and fires, etc., initially respond with energy, determination and the intent of getting everything in their lives restored as soon as possible.  And then, adrenaline fatigue sets in and individuals, groups, neighborhoods, and entire communities depict weariness, and lethargy akin to what has for years been defined as “burnout.”   The rush of adrenaline at the outset energizes or empowers survivors of disasters to accomplish tasks that were never before a part of their personal histories.  But the almost non-stop focus on cleaning up and renewing damaged property and replacing personal possessions drains the supply of adrenaline.  As a result focus is deflected and simple tasks are avoided or ignored and the pace slows to such a degree that short “to do” lists are misplaced or evaded and progress diminishes and then stops.

There is no way to effectively prepare persons, groups and entire populations for the “highs” (adrenaline rush) and “lows” (adrenaline fatigue) related to the experience of the trauma of the event itself and the aftermath of recovery.

Those of decide to go into a setting where there has been a major disaster should be alert to the ebb and flow of morale, energy and accomplishments.

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Retired Lutheran (ELCA) clergyperson. Founder & owner of Brookover Leadership Development & Consulting, Inc. (1967)

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18 thoughts on “Adrenaline Fatigue After a Disaster”

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