Once again Fort Hood is in the news for another tragic event, a shooting at the U.S. military base has the world stunned and saddened. Just a few hours after the shooting, attention has now turned to the “why” of such an unexplainable event.
Attention is now focused on the shooters “mental health issues” which CNN reports includes depression and anxiety.
While investigations will continue in depth on what may have been the motive for this event, it’s important to be aware of the impact of this event not only on those who survived the shooting, but those individuals who experienced it in person, the military community at Fort Hood, the first responders and caregivers of those injured, and even those who may be watching the media coverage unfold.
There are a variety of psychological reactions to surviving or witnessing a traumatic event. The National Center for PTSD provides information on common reaction to trauma, including sleep difficulty, experiencing nightmares, having a heightened sense of vulnerability, becoming easily startled by loud noises, difficulty with concentration and decision making, and feelings of sadness or fear.
However, there are ways to help if these types of reactions occur. The National Center for PTSD offers these suggestions:
- First and foremost, know that it’s normal to have these types of reactions to a traumatic event.
- Techniques such as finding others for support, practicing relaxation methods such as meditation, breathing exercises or prayer can also be of benefit.
- Reach out to others for support.
- If symptoms continue or worsen, it is important to talk to your family doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist or mental health professional for help to find out if these symptoms are part of the normal response to trauma or are considered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The American Psychological Association describes PTSD as a disorder in which symptoms occur in someone who is exposed, either directly or indirectly, to a traumatic event such as combat, a natural disaster, or sexual assault.
It is most important to know that help is available and effective treatments for PTSD do exist.
Because we know that mental health issues are critically important, here at the Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas Level I trauma center, we provide a full time psychologist who works with patients who sustain a physical injury, as well as with their families.
Anxiety and depression can be common after injury, not only for the patient, but their loved ones who find themselves in a caregiving role.
Currently, research studies are underway at our Level I trauma center that are focused on mental health issues after injury in order to ultimately provide better treatments for those affected.