In light of the present national disaster, I wanted to provide some information that may be helpful to the public. I approached this task by searching the World Wide Web to find appropriate sources of sound information regarding coping with traumatic stress.
First, I want people to know that everyone copes with trauma differently. Some individuals may not seem to experience any emotional reactions and others may feel emotionally devastated. Early symptoms may fade for some individuals as they begin to normalize their lives. Others may have persistent, and very intrusive symptoms, that significantly interfere with their daily functioning. Still, others may experience symptoms a year or longer after experiencing the traumatic event. The majority of individuals adjust and learn to cope with their emotional and physical reactions.
Here are some good sites to obtain appropriate information.
The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (www.icisf.com) has a brief summary of suggestions for the individuals, family members, and friends. This list focus is on the first 24-48 hours. Look at their information pamphlet for a list of signs and signals of a stress reaction.
For information regarding longer term emotional reactions to traumatic stress see the American Psychological Association's 'Tips for Recovering From Disasters and Other 'traumatic Events"(helping.apa.org/therapy/traumaticstress.html).
If symptoms persist for an extended period of time or they return unexpectedly, we would diagnose that as a disorder called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For more detailed information on this diagnosable disorder see the National Institute of Mental Health's Website(www.nimh.nih.gov/anxiety/ptsdmenu.cfm).
A good source of information regarding the emotional reactions of school age children, In addition, how teachers and parents can help can be found at the American Psychological Association Website(www.apa.org/pracrice/ptguidelines.html) and the National Association of School Psychologists Website(www.nasponline.org/neat/trauma.html).
A good site for professionals seeking information on symptoms, treatments, training programs and handouts for patients is Dr. David Baldwin's Trauma Website(www.trauma-pages.com).