Thursday, December 20, 2012

Post Traumatic Stress

Slowly I'm finally becoming okay with being labeled as having post traumatic stress.  I've been through a lot of extreme situations.  The more that I learn about it the more that I understand myself a bit better and why I do the things that I do.  I want to share an email I received regarding the tragic shooting that occurred recently.  I hope this brings awareness that post traumatic stress is real and it can have some intense effects on kids as well as adults.  I also hope that by bringing awareness to this someone somewhere will be greatly benefited one day.
"It is not uncommon for children (and adults) of all ages to experience features of acute or post-traumatic stress, even for those who witness the event remotely through media. The key features include: remembering, emotional numbing (for post-traumatic stress), and arousal. For remembering, many kids will have frightening flashbacks, or sometimes in younger children vague images of horror that they cannot describe. These images may interrupt sleep or intrude into the day. Some kids will react by regressed behavior such as clinging, and it is just fine to keep them close and allow this. After all, they need to feel attached! For other kids, they may shut down and avoid contact. While parents should not force physical contact, they should not leave them alone, but stay close, and try to engage them in playful and caring ways.
Many children and adults will demonstrate signs of “arousal” such as rapid heartbeat; feelings of panic or “impending doom”; rapid breathing, nausea, sweating. This is the “fight or flight” response well known in situations of extreme danger. It may, in fact, come on in response to thinking about such an event. Some kids will not be able to sleep, and want to be with their parents. This is one situation when bringing them into the bedroom, either into bed, or setting up a cot is called for. For others, sleeping together in a common room may work. The important thing is to stay close.
In the next few days to weeks some younger children may “re-enact” the event through play. They may play out games of shootings, people getting hurt, dying or taken to the hospital. Such play in younger children is normal and should be allowed, though it is really hard for many adults to tolerate it! But the important point is that kids work out their emotional conflicts through playing. This is a healthy response and assists their coping.
For younger children, turn off the TV! Remember, they may think the images and videos that are going to be continually covered by the media may mean these things are happening over and over. It may also increase their emotional distress, just as it will certainly increase the reactions of adults."
Granted this email was regarding to the tragic shooting however it is still has good information about PTS, post traumatic stress.  My heart goes out to those families who have suffered from this event and will suffer from this event.  I hope somehow they find comfort through these difficult times. 

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