Coping With Trauma: Anxiety and Fear are Normal Reactions
Although recovering emotionally from the tragic events of September 11th will take time, mental health experts believe that most people will cope and eventually feel better.
"As people are getting over the shock of what has happened, they may now feel sad, anxious, angry and even fearful," says Rachel Yehuda, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "These feelings are part of the normal emotional response to trauma and are likely to be temporary. In the long run, most people will find ways to cope and eventually recover."
Helping Ourselves-and Others
How can we help ourselves recover? Mental health professionals have identified several steps we can take to help us cope with trauma:
Talk about your feelings and allow others to express theirs. "Talking helps, but may not be easy for everyone. Being willing to listen is one of the best things we can do for one another," says Yehuda. Experience with trauma victims has shown than denying grief and bottling up emotions significantly interferes with recovery.
- Remind yourself of your own resources-emotional, spiritual, economic and social. Remember that you have overcome adversity in the past: what did you do for yourself and others that helped? Share your own particular skills with others. Reach out to your social support networks-your church or synagogue, book club or your running partner-for a sounding board and support. "I've come to appreciate that there is a broad range of responses to trauma and loss," says Yehuda. "People will find their own way to grieve. There are no 'shoulds' here."
- Be good to yourself. Jerilyn Ross, M.A., L.I.C.S.W., President and CEO of the ADAA, suggests that it is important to take care of yourself, physically-get enough sleep, exercise and go easy on the alcohol and caffeine. And be gentle with your psychological self: expect some forgetfulness and concentration problems, even weepiness. Things will get better.
- Get back to routines. Going back to work, getting neglected housework done, even planning a night out are ways people may get back to former routines and begin to make a transition. Children particularly are helped by a return to the household routine; parents should enforce their normal rules about homework, piano practicing, bedtimes and so forth.
Reprinted with the permission of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
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