From Dr. Jane's Notebook

What’s post-traumatic stress?

Few of us were left unscathed by last month’s attack on America. Whether we were physically in New York and Washington, or thousands of miles away, the ongoing story of this tragedy echoed through most of our homes, neighborhoods and workplaces. We identified with the victims, worried about their families, felt the fear of a surprise attack, and we absorbed a lot of stress.

Since September 11, 2001, I have spoken with few people who have not mentioned this trauma. Most of us have been on edge as if waiting for the other shoe to fall, and without realizing it, many of us have been experiencing post-traumatic stress. At this point, you may be asking, "How do I know if I have post-traumatic stress?" Further, you may be asking "How can I get over it". To answer these questions, consider the following ideas.

Recovery from trauma is best achieved through rest, a healthy diet, exercise, sticking with your familiar routine, talking with supportive family and friends, leisure activities, focusing on one thing at a time, seeking professional therapy when needed, and most of all, allowing yourself to feel what you feel. It is not helpful to self-medicate with alcohol (because it further depresses you), not helpful to pretend that everything is okay, and not helpful to stay away from work or your regular activities. Further, given the thoroughness of today’s media coverage, trust that whatever happens, you will be informed! Don’t overindulge in television news stories. In this case, re-runs are not only boring, they’re depressing and can easily poison our minds.

©Copyright, 2001, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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