Acute stress reaction
Acute stress disorder will usually resolve in three months, but more chronic cases may last as long as six months, following the event. In some cases, delayed onset of symptoms may occur up to six months after the traumatic event has occurred.
If the two or more of these symptoms persist after a month, consult a mental health professional:
- Numbing, detachment, absence of emotions
- Being in a daze
- Recurrent, daily images of the traumatic event
- Complete avoidance of any conversation about the trauma
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Irritability, or outbursts of anger or tears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Exaggerated startle response
Most of us have experienced some of these symptoms in the days following the terrorist attack. If these symptoms continue for more than one month, and are severe enough to cause an inability to function in your job, family or social responsibilities after this time, you may need to get professional help to cope.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur when a person is exposed to a traumatic event in which they are involved in, or witness threat of life or serious injury to self or others. A person’s response to the threat involves intense fear, helplessness or horror. They can also show agitation and disorganized behavior.
If, after one month, the trauma continues to be experienced in one or more of the following ways below, and you experience two or more of the symptoms listed below, which cause you to be unable to function in family, work or social life, you may be experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome, a more serious condition, which needs professional attention.
1) The trauma is recurrently recollected in images, thoughts and perceptions.
2) Recurrent distressing dreams of the event. (For children, frightening dreams of varying content.)
3) Acting or feeling that the traumatic event is recurring.
Symptoms to watch out for:
1) Efforts to completely avoid (not reduce or monitor exposure) thoughts or conversations about the tragedy.
2) Diminished interest in activities that used to hold importance
3) Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others.
4) Unable to express loving or affectionate feelings.
5) Sense of foreshortened future. Giving up on personal career goals, family marriage or future goals.
The past week’s events have made our lives both larger, and smaller simultaneously. We have become part of the angst that other countries under fire have experienced and lived with on a daily basis. We feel their pain, their support of the horror we have experienced, and the grief of those families across the nation that are intimately affected by loss of loved ones. We are also experiencing the restrictions that terrorism has brought in its immediate aftermath, the fear and anxiety that changes the ease in which we have moved through our country and the world.
We are not imprisoned by fear. We are empowered, by acting to unite as a country against that which does not respect and honor life.