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Coping with Horrific News

by Elizabeth Rahamim, LCSW, SAP

Sadness fills my heart as I think about the participants who were victimized in the bombings today in Boston. As a country, since 9/11, we have experienced one major tragedy after the next. It is easy to become desensitized, numb and closed off emotionally from the reality of the victims of each subsequent tragedy.

How do you cope with such horrific news? Of course, there is the
shock, as you may ask yourself or others, did this really happen, how
is this even possible? After this stage you may find yourself in
denial, wanting to keep watching footage over and over in disbelief,
or avoiding it altogether, maybe taking a glimpse of the latest
footage only to immediately immerse yourself in an episode of I Love Lucy on
late night TV since you really can’t sleep with the pictures in your
mind. Following this is where it really gets tough, the emotions set
in. You find yourself more irritable, tense, possibly angry, anxious,
and possibly depressed. This is when you find yourself easily
distractible, have difficulty focusing, completing tasks that in the
past may have been simple for you. People find healthy ways to cope,
gathering with friends and family, mobilizing the community to
volunteer to help the situation or find ways to bond through this
painful process. On the contrary, some may experience maladaptive
reactions, such as binging on drugs or alcohol or driving recklessly.
Ideally, you can then come to an acceptance phase and to recovery with
minimal long-term affects.

The most important aspect of achieving the
transition through to recovery successfully is having resources to
implement an effective self-care plan that is unique and tailored
especially for you. If you are having difficulty sleeping, having any
changes in your eating patterns or experiencing any other significant
symptoms of distress, please seek out professional assistance
immediately to minimize the possibility of long term Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder. The studies do indicate that if psychological aid is
provided within 24 to 72 hours following a stressful incident, the
long-term affects can be decreased significantly.

If you or a friend/family member needs the assistance of a licensed counselor or psychiatrist, we offer quality over-the-phone and in person sessions to help fit any personal needs.

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