The shooting event yesterday on the Saint Francis Hospital campus has many of us shaken, given an already unsettling state of mind following last week’s event in Uvalde, TX. Each person will begin to process these traumatic events based on their own history, thoughts and beliefs.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
First, we experience these events both as an individual and as part of a community. We may be emotionally affected by a sense of loss of safety and control, and an increase in uncertainty.
Second, those who are closest to the traumatic event will likely be the most affected by complex post-traumatic responses, including anxiety, depression, anger, numbness and disconnection. They will need help to regain a sense of safety and emotional stability.
Third, these responses develop over an extended period. Even if we are not directly exposed, we should be mindful of encountering a person months from now who may continue to experience emotional difficulties following trauma.
Fourth, there is evidence of various coping approaches that may result in more problems, e.g., substance and alcohol use are well-known to increase in some individuals following trauma.
Fifth, processing these events within a framework of finding meaning, spirituality and benevolence may help to overcome the difficult and painful emotions many of us are feeling at this point in time.
-Martin Paulus, M.D.
Scientific Director and President