Coping with Tragedy In Boston: Dr. Diana’s View

Boston Strong - photo courtesy of Amanda KohnThe events of April 15th (the bombing at the Boston Marathon and violence in towns around Boston) have shocked the entire country and the world. Whether or not you were there in person or even live nearby, you may be deeply affected by what happened. You may feel upset, angry, frustrated, sad, fearful, anxious or helpless. All of these common feelings are normal after an event like the marathon bombing.

After living through a trauma or life-threatening event, many people may have upsetting memories of the event, may feel jumpy, or have trouble sleeping. If these reactions don’t go away after many weeks, or if they get worse, some people may get diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people get after a scary event. When you’re in danger, it’s natural to feel scared. People who have PTSD, however, may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger, even months after the initial event. Symptoms of PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, frightening thoughts, staying away from places, events, or objects that remind you of the experience, feeling guilty, loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy, being easily startled, feeling tense, and having a hard time sleeping.

Remember that it’s normal to feel stressed after a scary event, and most people get better with time and don’t get PTSD. If you experience something traumatic (shocking, stressful, upsetting, or disturbing), be kind to yourself and others. Spend time with friends and loved ones and focus on positive things such as the people and things in your life that are most important to you. It may be helpful to cut back on the amount of media (TV, internet) you’re watching if it’s making you more upset or making it difficult to get things done. Realize that you may need to ask for help or support. If you’re feeling upset or having difficulty getting through your day, please don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk with a parent, guardian, teacher, doctor or other health care provider, counselor or friend and tell them how you are feeling. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start to feel better.

-Dr. Diana