There's no escaping the horrific tragedies happening in our world today, and it's taking its toll on some as a disorder called Second Hand Trauma (SHT).

Mass shootings at a concert in Las Vegas, shootings at school campuses, nightclubs, movie theatres, landmarks, bus stations and all the devastation including lives lost to hurricanes. It's a wonder we can even function anymore. Some people become desensitized while others become sad and depressed, and a lot of people end up with STS and may not even know it.

Dr. Susan Daniel says "STS is a genuine disorder that affects individuals who did not witness the traumatic event first-hand but was exposed to it in other ways such as their profession (clergy, counselor, emergency personnel, etc.), familiarity with someone who was impacted, or repeated exposure through the media." We also need to be cognizant of our children. They were particularly susceptible to STS due to today's technology.

The traits of STS are similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other trauma disorders and can include many of these symptoms.

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Confusion
  • Intense fear
  • Hypervigilant
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sad or depressed
  • Feelings of guilt or hopelessness
  • Nightmares or sleeplessness
  • Constantly worried about death
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Avoidance of public places
  • Chronic illness (i.e., headaches, stomach pain)
  • Socially withdrawn or dissociated
  • Insensitive to violence
  • Treatment for Second-Hand Trauma

Are you or is someone you know suffering from this disorder? Well, that's the first step to recovery. Next, find a qualified therapist. Your therapist will provide counseling and a treatment plan to bring balance back into your life, and you may feel better in just a few weeks. Dr. Daniel warns that "without proper help, symptoms can last for months or years, and morph into other types of disorders and behaviors that may include the abuse of drugs or alcohol." Here are two effective forms of treatment for second-hand trauma outlined below

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective form of treatment that can include relaxation techniques, psychological crisis management, and other special treatments as needed. Individuals are also taught coping skills and how to understand the anxiety associated with the traumatic event. Sometimes medication may also be needed to help the person deal with anxiety, depression, or agitation.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of therapy that is used to help millions of people of all ages according to the EMDR International Association. Through EMDR, individuals can look at a traumatic event in a kinder, gentler manner by “reprocessing” the event and adding new experiences that will leave the individual with a healthier perspective, understanding, and a positive outlook.

CNY has lot's of qualified therapists, crisis centers and helplines, so please take charge of your happiness.

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[Information from Dr.Susan Daniel]


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