Coping with Emotional Responses to Traumatic Events
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has programs to help combat veterans deal with the emotional trauma of war. Those programs have enabled VA to become widely recognized within the medical community as a leader in helping people deal with the aftermath of emotional events.
The emotional effects of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and the Washington, D.C., area, will be felt by people everywhere. Those who were at the scene or have lost loved ones will have strong reactions. People who saw or heard about the attacks through the news media may also be very upset.
Traumatic events create fear, grief, horror, helplessness and the feeling of being overwhelmed. People may be bothered by nightmares or upsetting thoughts and pictures that come to mind. Young children may be upset, distracted, or out of sorts. These are normal reactions to very stressful events, and they usually get better with time.
People directly affected by tragedy, young children, people who have been through other traumatic events, and people with emotional problems may need extra help.
Things You Can Do
Whether directly affected by traumatic events or helping others through a difficult time, there are things to do:
Remember that everyone has his or her own pace for processing trauma. It is important to listen to and honor their own pace and ways of dealing with the situation.
Talk or spend time with people. Coping with stressful events is easier when people support each other. Follow your own natural inclination with regard to how much and to whom you talk.
If talking does not feel right, other forms of expression such as journal writing, hobbies, art, or other enjoyable activities are often helpful. …