Managing Maladaptive Thinking Post a Natural Disaster

Research generally finds about two-thirds of individuals affected by natural disasters, health crises and terrorist attacks show resilience, they maintain a stable level of mental health in the face of a serious stressor. However, we are now beginning to understand the effects of being exposed to multiple disasters, experiencing multiple disasters influences our feelings of safety, security and even our hope for the future. And this is found to wear down our resilience and create a higher level of maladaptive thinking.

Life rarely goes as expected. When faced with an obstacle, we can adapt or not. At the moment, it’s not necessarily a conscious choice. It could be a temporary reaction until we have a chance to think about it.

Adaptive behaviour is making the choice to solve a problem or minimize an unwanted outcome. You might do something you don’t necessarily want to do or find a way to work around it. You’re adjusting to circumstances.

We’ve all been there. When that’s your only way of dealing with stressors, it can be a problem. Maladaptive behaviours are those that stop you from adapting to new or difficult circumstances. This type of behaviour prevents you from making adjustments that are in your own best interest.

Maladaptive behaviours can include:

Avoidance & Withdrawal

  • not making eye contact during conversation
  • speaking too softly or not at all
  • not asking questions when you need more information
  • Disconnecting from those who can support

Self-harm such as:

  • scratching, cutting, or burning skin
  • picking at scabs or wounds
  • hair and eyelash pulling
  • self-hitting or banging your head.

This may provide temporary relief, but only exacerbates problems and can potentially harm your health.

Substance use and abuse

Maladaptive daydreaming keeps you from facing reality.

You can identify maladaptive behaviours and replace them with more productive ones. Otherwise, they can lead to emotional, social, and health problems. If things are spiralling out of control, there is treatment. Our Connect My Mind, we can help you find better ways to react to life’s challenges and help you gain control and improve your quality of life.

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