Anxiety, Trauma, and PTSD: How Mass Violence Affects Mental Health

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Anxiety, Trauma, and PTSD: How Mass Violence Affects Mental Health

For some people, the effects of mass violence persist long after the event. Most people who experience such events deal with stress for some time, but manage to get over it. But others experience long term effects that can turn into serious mental health issues. The people who are affected by these issues the most are usually survivors, first responders, as well as the friends and family members of the victims and survivors.

PTSD and Other Problems People Suffer From

The most common problem that affected people suffer is post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a disorder that is often triggered by traumatic events. Most people who have heard it of probably associate it with war. Many veterans sent to areas of conflict deal with serious post-traumatic stress disorder due to the exposure to violence. But as we are approaching PTSD Awareness Month, it’s important to know that this condition doesn’t just affect veterans.

People who were affected by mass violence events (shootings, riots, physical assaults) are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder. And of course, traumatic events like serious accidents, abuse, and pre-existing problems like anxiety and depression can also trigger post-traumatic stress disorder. It is believed that certain PTSD risk factors like childhood trauma, substance abuse, and prolonged stress explains why some people may be more prone to developing the mental disorder.

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Anxiety is another mental issue that people who’ve gone through traumatic events may develop. The problem with anxiety is that the mental disorder often does not get diagnosed. The reason why is that the symptoms can be quite subtle. People often mistake anxiety as a behavioral problem rather than a mental problem that they cannot control.

What are Some PTSD Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of?

People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often do not receive the proper treatment. The reason is because many health professionals are not given the training to identify or ask about the condition. There is also a lack of information about the mental issue in non-military settings. That’s why it’s important to understand all the symptoms of PTSD.

Here is a list that you or your loved one may be demonstrating:

  • Getting put in a stressful or frozen state when triggered by outside factors that remind the person of the event.
  • Constant flashbacks of the traumatic event. This may or may not be triggered by outside factors.
  • The person becoming abnormally irritable, angry, or aggressive. This can happen long after the traumatic event.
  • Recurring nightmares that are related to the traumatic event. It may or may not include elements of the original events.
  • Change in sleeping patterns. Finding problems falling asleep due to nightmares or stress.
  • Engaging in self-destructive behavior like substance abuse and other risky behaviors to cope with the stress.
  • Increase in negative thoughts and emotions. It’s important to pay attention to what the person is thinking and feeling after the event.
  • Detachment from emotions, relationships, and social situations. The person may not be as open as usual.

As you can see, these symptoms can be quite subtle. It’s important to really dig deep and look for the symptoms to see if the person is suffering from PTSD. It’s vital to take this mental issue seriously as there is a strong link with suicide. It was found that 27 percent of people who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder have attempted suicide. You do not want to make assumptions after a traumatic event.

Symptoms of Anxiety You Should Be Aware Of

While anxiety is less of a threat than post-traumatic stress disorder, it can still be a tormenting condition. Many people that develop anxiety after a traumatic event may only show the symptoms when exposed to a similar situation or a situation that reminds them of the event.

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Here are the anxiety symptoms that you want to be aware of:

  • Excessive worrying despite the fact that the person is not in a risky situation.
  • Lack of energy or general fatigue. An anxiety disorder may make the person feel like their energy is being sapped away.
  • Mental fog that makes it hard to focus, think clearly, and perform.
  • Trouble staying asleep or falling asleep. Anxiety can prevent the person from relaxing.
  • More than one anxiety or panic attack. This usually is caused by overwhelming negative thoughts and emotions.
  • Increased irritability and anger. This is one of the more common symptoms of anxiety.

If you or your loved one has gone through a traumatic event, you do not want to make assumptions about the mental health of the person. It’s important to get proper diagnosis and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Novum Psychiatry is a Sudbury psychiatrist practice and has experience with a wide variety of mental illnesses. We approach patient care with empathy, compassion, and the best possible treatments that are available today.

Call us at 978 252 0873 today if you or your loved one is dealing with a mental condition due to a traumatic event.

If you prefer a less personal way to get an evaluation, you can do so by visiting our website and filling out a simple form.