The events that have occurred since September 11th have had an affect on all of us. Many of us witnessed, whether it was live or on television, the devastation done by the terrorists. We may find that we are more anxious or feel more stressed than normal. We may be depressed and feel hopeless or helpless. We may feel more irritable or feel guilty. We may find ourselves feeling fatigue or having difficulty sleeping. We may have difficulty concentrating or making decisions and being forgetful. We may feel detached or "on edge". We may alter from one reaction or one feeling to another. Our values may be changing our have changed. These effects of trauma sometimes occur right after the trauma and sometimes much later. Trauma effects all of us differently. We should try not to judge ourselves or others. There is no time clock on its effects- each person reacts differently. It is when it has a significantly negative impact on our functioning that we might seek help to work it through.
It is important to take care of ourselves; eating well balanced meals and getting the proper rest. Avoiding the use of alcohol may be advisable. Avoiding caffeine use may be beneficial, especially if we are anxious or having trouble sleeping. Keep as regular a schedule as possible. Being cautious about making major decisions but making minor ones may help us feel more in control. Refusing to avoid dealing with the incident and sharing it with others can be helpful. Doing things we enjoy and being with those we care about are positive steps to take.
If your symptoms persist, become too uncomfortable, or if you have questions about what you're feeling it can be helpful to see a therapist specializing in trauma. It is important to take care of yourself.
Children's reactions differ according to their age and understanding. It is important to reassure them that they're safe and you are with them. If they talk about it, listen. Learn how they perceive what happened. Follow their lead. Do not try to have the understand the full impact of what happened- for little children it may be too much for them. Try to continue familiar routines.
Adolescents sometimes posture and try to be "cool" not admitting their fears or concerns. Allow them to do so, letting them know you're there if you want to talk. Answer their questions to the best of your ability and observe. It is important to know that there is no right way to feel.
Sometimes children will regress to earlier behaviors they may have outgrown, or may cling to their parent. They may seem afraid. Nightmares may occur, tantrums or outbursts may occur. The child may become more isolated, more withdrawn. Again, it is important to reassure them that they are safe, and if possible to give them a hug.
Help them to label and talk about their feelings. Children often feel that when something bad happens it is their fault, correct that impression if it occurs.
If their symptoms persist, become severe, or do not decrease in severity arrange an appointment with a therapist specializing in trauma. And, please, take care of yourself so you can be at your best to take care of them.
TRAUMA AND RECENT EVENTS
TRAUMA AND CHILDREN