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September 6, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

kidsemotions

Don't Bring Me Down

September 6, 2013 10:18 by Cindy Marie Hosszu  [About the Author]

kidsemotions
Those Catchy Emotions: It is Friday, and we are excited for the weekend. That is, until we run across that one person who can always find the dark cloud on a sunny day. No matter how determined we are to try to avoid them, it seems that something about them just zaps our excitement, and makes us feel grumpy or sad. How is it that our moods seem to be contagious, and we take on the emotions of those around us? It is not just your imagination. There has been research that proves that negative, and positive, attitudes are catchy.[1] Elaine Hatfield and Richard Rapson from the University of Hawaii suggested years ago that emotional mimicry had 3 stages of effect on our emotions. The first stage happens when, as people communicate, they continually mimic the facial expressions, postures, and other behaviors of the person with whom they are communicating. The second stage is that people have an emotional experience based on their own facial muscles and other movement that is being mimicked. The third stage is that by experiencing the first 2 stages, people “catch” the emotions of another person.[2] We pick up the subtle facial expressions, body language, and other cues, and mimic them. This explains the impulse that happens when we see someone yawn. We can’t help but yawn too. Our body and mind associate the feeling from the change in muscle with the emotion that we have when we experience those muscle changes ourselves, and our emotions follow along with the physical changes we mimic from others. But, Wait, There’s More A more recent study goes a step further by associating a risk factor for depression being contagious when a major life transition is involved. [3] The study conducted at the University of Notre Dame followed 103 random pairs of college freshmen roommates. Freshmen whose roommates had high cognitive vulnerability were more likely to take on their roommate’s cognitive style and develop similar vulnerabilities. On the other hand, the students who were paired with low vulnerability roommates actually decreased their cognitive vulnerability. Those in the study who showed an increase in cognitive vulnerability in the first 3 months of the study had almost twice the symptoms of depression at the 6 month period than the other group. [4] Cognitive vulnerability is a measure for assessing risk of depressive symptoms. Someone with a high vulnerability will perceive negative events as persistent over time, they think it will affect many areas of their life, think that it will lead to other negative consequences, and they also think that the negative event implies that there is something wrong with them.[5] This way of viewing negative events increases the likely outcome of depression. The Notre Dame study confirms that our cognitive vulnerability can change with relationship to our social context. If we place ourselves around positive people, we will find ourselves better equipped to fight off depressive symptoms than if we place ourselves around those who are not as capable of dealing with depression. Another study on the resilience of cognitive vulnerability to depression asserts that if an intervention takes place before cognitive vulnerability develops, or after it develops, but before depression, resilience is highly likely.[6] In order to protect ourselves from the effects of being subjected to constant negativity, we can equip ourselves with the tools for resilience. Realizing that we can be effected by others negative emotions, is likely enough for many, but counseling can help to avoid being caught up in the negative thinking. Some Good News The good news is that this contagious thinking works both ways. Those who are around someone who is happy, also tend to catch the happiness. So the way to break out of the negative social contagion is to interject the positive. It is not always easy to change another person’s way of thinking, but understanding what causes some of the negative could help facilitate awareness and empathy for them without being influenced by their mood. If we consciously notice when we are mimicking the person to whom we are speaking, we can prevent ourselves from following along, and possibly reverse the effect by smiling when we see that frown. Not only will it prevent your body from assessing the muscle memory with the negative emotion, but you may just be able to turn the other person around by being that constant positive influence in their day. Helping Hands If you have events or people in your life that consistently bring you down, don’t be slow to seek help. The sooner the negative is turned around the less chance there is for depression, or other lasting effects. A therapist can help you by being equipped with the right tools for the situation, and protect your resilience. For more information that doesn’t bring you down, read Don’t Let Discouragement Discourage You. [1] British Medical Journal (2008, December 4). Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600606/ [2] Hatfield, E., & Rapson, R. (n.d.). Emotional Contagion and the Communication of Emotion. Progress in Communication Sciences, 14, 73-89. Retrieved from http://www.elainehatfield.com/ch58.pdf [3] Association for Psychological Science (2013, April 18). Risk Factor for Depression Can Be ‘Contagious’. Retrieved from http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/risk-factor-for-depression-can-be-contagious.html [4] Ibid. [5] Haeffel, G. J., & Et al (2008). Measuring Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression: Development and Validation of the Cognitive Style Questionnaire. Science Direct Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 824-836. [6] Haeffel, G. J., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2007). Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression: Exploring Risk and Resilience. Child and Adolescent Pschiatric Clinics of North America, 16, 435-448.

September 2, 2013
by Ashley Marie

university

Time Manage Today, Walk the Stage Tomorrow

September 2, 2013 16:05 by Ashley Marie  [About the Author]

university
You walked the stage on the day of your high school graduation. But will you do it this time around? Though many bright-eyed university students walk onto campus filled with hopes dreams, not all of them leave with a degree. The university dropout rate is 16% in Canada.[1] In the United States, the situation is even worse: a mere 53% of American students actually walk the stage.[2] There are many challenges that make university life difficult, as outlined in Back to School Series: Are you Ready? Unfortunately for some, the academic challenges of university education simply become too overwhelming. Manage Your Time to Manage Your Stress A major obstacle to high scholastic achievement is poor time management. Personally, this was a lesson I had to learn firsthand during my first final exam. I had paid attention in lectures and done most of the readings, but I had not sufficiently prepared myself in the weeks and months leading up to the exam. So, at 1am on the eve of my assessment, I called my parents only to sob on the other end in utter fear of failing. I hardly slept that night. The next day, I dragged myself out of bed and walked down to the examination hall with one eye twitching from lack of sleep. I sat down in a room with hundreds of worried students, and then hurriedly scribbled my answer to the first question. Those three hours were grueling, and all I could think was: “I wish I had studied harder.” Thankfully, I decided that I did not enjoy the end result of my deliberate procrastination. Poor time management had made me into a tired, grumpy, and malfunctioning zombie with hazy thoughts and poor retention skills. After that stressful episode, I turned for help by setting up an appointment with an academic counselor. I also attended a variety of free sessions on how to time manage, study effectively, and manage stress. Combined, they improved my study habits in a way that was tailored to my personality, including my strengths and weaknesses as a student. Thankfully, you do not have to subject yourself to the same level of anxiety and stress that I experienced. Procrastination: The Road to Anxiety According to Palmer and Puri, there is a relationship between the passing of time and your level of stress or anxiety.[3] The closer you are to a deadline for an assignment or the day of an exam, the more likely you are to feel stressed. It follows that the earlier you begin working on an assignment or studying for an exam, the less stressed you will feel and the better you will be able to focus. As soon as you get your course syllabus, draft a study plan that covers all of the readings, assignments, and exams that you will have during the upcoming academic year. Academic Counseling Even better, revise your study plan with an academic counselor – and do not procrastinate on this one. He or she likely has a good understanding of which courses will be more demanding. This can help you achieve a balanced work distribution. Your academic counselor can also help you understand how to study for each course. For instance, a course in history will likely require a heavy amount of readings, while a course in mathematics will probably involve a great deal of practical exercises. These different focuses require different study skills. If you understand what is expected of you, you will also know how to balance your study time and free time. But if you procrastinate, you will probably end up having loads of free time for months and then a combination of stress headaches, cold sweats, and stressful all-nighters at the library - not a great way to end the year. Eat a Frog for Breakfast One of the best words of wisdom I received from my academic counselor was to “eat a frog for breakfast.” The meaning of this saying is twofold. Firstly, do not procrastinate your most challenging work; do your most difficult studying first and then turn your focus to easier tasks or courses. Secondly, work hard and then enjoy your free time – not the other way around. You can only be productive if you eliminate distractions, as argued by Forsyth.[4] To perform well, you need to focus. And this will likely involve studying in an environment – be it a library, a café, a park, among others – where you are not distracted by your fun and gregarious roommate, where you won’t waste your time watching the latest episode of your favourite TV show, and where you won’t be tempted to throw everything aside for a night out with your friends. Learn what your distractions are, as well as when to avoid them and when to enjoy them. Perfectionism Isn’t Perfect Another tendency for some students is to try to do everything perfectly. But this can also become an obstacle to proper time management.[5] Ask your professor or teaching assistant what you need to do to achieve high marks on your exam or assignment. You do not need to read every word of Plato’s The Republic if there will only be one question on the topic. You also do not need to discover the cure for cancer prior to your biology exam. Be reasonable with the amount of time that you devote to each assignment or to studying. You will then discover that you can actually enjoy your Friday night off. Your professors do not expect you to become the next Shakespeare or the next Einstein. You can aim high without going overboard. Time is Not Your Enemy University can be a challenging phase for many students. But you do not need to let poor time management get in the way of a brilliant academic career. Manage your time, and you will find the time to both succeed academically and delight in all the excitement of university life. And if you’re not sure how to plan your studying, then take the time to meet your academic counselor. [1] Postsecondary Status of Young Adults. 2005. Statistics Canada. [online] Available at: <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-595-m/2008070/t/6000011-eng.htm> [2] Porter, E. 2013. Dropping out of college, and paying the price. The New York Times. [online] Available at: <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/26/business/economy/dropping-out-of-college-and-paying-the-price.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0> [3] Palmer, S., and Puri, A. 2006. Coping with Stress at University: A Survival Guide. London: SAGE Publications. [4] Forsyth, P. 2013. Successful Time Management. London: Kogan. [5] Ibid.

August 17, 2013
by Ashley Marie

appleondesk

Back to School Series: Are you Ready?

August 17, 2013 09:00 by Ashley Marie  [About the Author]

appleondesk
Students, parents, and professors are gearing up for the start of another academic year. And so should you. Therapists should pay special attention to the emotional and psychological stresses of academic life. Recent studies suggest that approximately half of American students experience depression.[1]Tragically, some become so depressed to the point of committing suicide, which is the second main cause of death for college and university students. In 2011, half of students at the University of Alberta claimed to have felt hopeless during the academic year. Seven percent of these Canadian students had considered committing suicide.[2] At the University of California Berkley, a survey showed that, in a typical academic year, almost half of their graduate students faced a mental health issue.[3] Moreover, about one in four students were not familiar with mental health support services provided by their university. The Millennial Generation To analyze some of the mental health issues present on college campuses, it is first beneficial to understand this generation of students. They are part of the Millennial Generation, which includes individuals born between the 1980s and early 2000s. As pointed out by Howe and Strauss, the Millennial Generation is characterized by high levels of education, ethnic diversity, an ambition to achieve, and an awareness of social and community issues.[4] While the above characteristics are positive, this generation has a difficult time accepting criticism and setbacks. Millennial students have been consistently praised for their successes throughout their lives – by family members, teachers, athletic coaches, extracurricular leaders, music teachers, etc. They have been told that they are embedded with talent and potential. In their eyes, the world is their oyster. Being a Millennial myself, I recall the numerous awards, honours, and distinctions that were poured upon my siblings, friends, and I during our grade-school years. It seemed that everything we did was seen as a cause for celebration. Our identities became wrapped up in award ceremonies, notices of distinction in our local newspaper, scholarships, and words of praise. Transitioning from High School to University This emotional support served as a double-edged sword once I first stepped onto my university campus. Suddenly, my cheerleaders and their blue and white pom-poms had vanished into thin air. There I was – all alone in a large university dorm miles away from home. I do not blame anyone for the challenges of my first academic year. However, I cannot deny that they were present. Broadly speaking, I struggled to balance two main areas: (1) the academic demands and (2) my social life. Academic Demands I was grateful to have received academic awards that helped finance my tuition fees. However, this blessing soon became a curse. To maintain my awards, I was required to maintain straight A’s throughout my four years of study, as well as become involved in extracurricular activities. This pressure pushed me to work hard and to learn a wealth of knowledge from brilliant professors. I also became active in a fascinating array of extracurricular activities. However, I eventually pushed myself to the point of feeling physically and emotionally unwell. My symptoms included stress, nausea, dizziness, depression, and a loss of appetite. But having been told that I was born to succeed, I ignored these symptoms and forced myself to work harder. Social Life Though this is not the case for all students, I largely ignored social pressures to party hard. Nevertheless, I slowly learned that I needed to expand my social life in order to be a successful student. In my third year of study, I began to shift some of the time that I spent overworking to spend more time with friends. Surprisingly, my grades went up that year, as well as my level of happiness. For the first time since high school, I felt less stressed and more fulfilled. A Healthy Balance All the advice I had received from student support services, as well as my university therapist, revolved around creating an ideal study schedule. The focus was on managing my time efficiently, so that I could accomplish my academic goals. However, the key to my success was increasing my level of happiness, not my level of organization. I already had a perfectly organized schedule – trust me, it was even colour-coded and divided up into different categories. The solution for me was to brighten up my social life. I am only one example of a Millennial student, and therapists should recognize that they cover a wide spectrum. But I wish my therapist had turned to me and said, “Darling, you don’t need to be the next Hillary Clinton. Why don’t you avoid the library this Friday night and go out with your friends?” [1] Facts About Depression. SMH Screening for Mental Health. [online] Available at: <http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/info-and-facts/depression.aspx> [2] What’s behind the rising rates of depression among Canada’s college students? Career Options. [online] Available at: <http://www.careeroptionsmagazine.com/4475/what%E2%80%99s-behind-the-rising-rates-of-depression-among-canada%E2%80%99s-college-students/> [3] Facts About Depression. SMH Screening for Mental Health. [online] Available at: <http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/info-and-facts/depression.aspx> [4] Howe, N. and Strauss, W. 2000. Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. New York: Random House.

August 10, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

backtoschool

Back To School Series: Stress for Parents

August 10, 2013 06:00 by Cindy Marie Hosszu  [About the Author]

backtoschool
It is not always just about the kids...back to school help for parents: Back to school time can be very stressful for both children and parents. Parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, and get along well in school. After days of staying up late, sleeping in, and no homework, it can be tough to get back to a routine. Add to that the stress of the $8.5 billion that the United States spent on school shopping in August 2012, and the tension is even higher. [i] However, there are some things you can do to help ease the stress, and send the kids off to school with confidence. Be Prepared Don’t wait until the last minute. Create a schedule and do a trial run before school starts. This will give you an idea of how long the morning routine will take, and what types of things can be done in the evening instead of mornings. Make lunches, iron, set out clothes, and pack the backpacks before bed, and you will cut out valuable morning time. Practice bus routines. Meet the neighborhood kids before the first day, so that your child knows who they will spend the ride with, and it will make it easier to find the right bus after school because they know who to look for on the bus. Plan play dates prior to school so that the kids will know each other and the ride to school will put them at ease before they get to school. Visit the school. Meet the teachers, know what is expected, get teacher contact info, and a get school supply list. Meeting the teachers will help you decide what types of things are going to be priorities, and what you may need to watch for during the school year. It can also ease the child’s fears if they do not know the teacher, or are unfamiliar with the school layout. Inquire about fees, such as lunches, class fees, art fees, etc. This will allow you to plan your budget. Gather information. Know the school web site, know the contact information for principal, superintendent, and phone numbers for administration such as the number to call when your child is ill, or you have questions about events. Know how the school communicates important information such as school closures, or late starts, and emergency routines. Get to bed early several nights before going back to school. We tend to stay up longer as the sun stays up longer. Our bodies need time to adjust back to the fall season. Give yourself a couple weeks to adjust to going to bed early. Start about a half-hour earlier, and gradually add more until you have reached the desired fall bedtime. If you find it difficult to get the kids to adjust, use relaxation techniques such as a warm bath, stories, or other quiet time activities before you put them to bed. Create a budget, and know how much you can spend for all school related expenses. Differentiate between needs and wants, and do your shopping as close to that first day as you can. Kids always seem to have growth spurts during the summer, and shopping early may mean you will be shopping again early in the year. Discuss with your child, prior to shopping, the types of things you are going to get, and stick to it. If you choose to get 5 new shirts, and 5 new pants, the child knows the expectation and will feel content with what they get. Designate a desk area. Homework comes first, so make sure there is a place where the kids have all their supplies, quiet, and a posture of study. Make Family Time Don’t take on extra tasks during this time. The back to school mad dash is enough stress. Don’t over-stimulate yourself by taking on too much. Stick to your priorities. Remember that kids can be overwhelmed also, and they will need their sleep, and healthy life-style. Be aware of how they are feeling. Ask the child about their fears. The best way to diminish worry is to address it. Do not give kids new things to worry about by expressing what you think they may worry about, but ask what they are thinking and what they are excited about as the new school year approaches. Based on what they express, you can address the fears they have. Establish relaxation for both kids and parents. Start a fun tradition, such as doing something special the day before school starts. I like to take my child out for a juice, or ice cream, and do some last minute light shopping for something simple, such as a belt, or hat. The real purpose is to talk and see what my child is thinking about, but all he knows is that it is super cool to have juice or ice cream with mom, and pick out one last new thing. You could also do a family marshmallow roast in the back yard, or game night. Any activities that will allow for natural conversation and fun will be perfect. Above all, stay positive. We make it through each new school year, and our kids see the little cues we give off if we are tense. Remember that this can be an exciting time to watch our kids grow, and develop into the wonderful new person that they are becoming. Relax and enjoy the pride you have in your amazing kids. Getting Help: It is okay to be stressed out. It is normal to be worried about getting everything right and feeling rushed for time. You, as a parent, may benefit from talking to someone about how you are feeling. Counseling to assist in making you the best parent you can be can be helpful. The back to school time can be stressful on your marriage or even work. Therapy can help to relieve the added tension and can help bring back some balance and perspective to life during this time. When it seems like it is all about the kids, sometimes it is important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves. [i] "Monthly & Annual Retail Trade, Main Page - US Census Bureau." Census Bureau Homepage. N.p., 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 July 2013.

August 5, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

caffeine 2

Does Caffeine Stress You Out?

August 5, 2013 04:00 by Cindy Marie Hosszu  [About the Author]

caffeine 2
We are wired... These days, we don’t often find ourselves running from mountain lions on our way to hunt for dinner, but our bodies are still wired to protect us from threats. Some more common threats we face in our time is mounting bills, busy jobs, raising teenagers, or… the amount of caffeine we put in our body. Caffeine increases cortisol levels in the body at rest, and exaggerates stress. [1] Cortisol is a stress hormone that functions to manage blood pressure, control blood sugar, and immune response. Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands, and is what we know as the fight or flight response. The same fight or flight response that was released when faced with a predator before computers, and other machines or gadgets existed to bring us a new kind of stress in our lives. While we may not think of them as a threat, our bodies deal with stress the same way it would deal with the threat of running from mountain lions. When faced with a perceived threat, the hypothalamus, in the brain, initiates a process in which the body releases signals that alert your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones. One of the hormones is adrenaline which increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and energy. Another hormone is Cortisol, which increases glucose in the bloodstream to trigger your brain to use glucose efficiently, and repair tissues. Cortisol also represses the immune system, digestive system and reproductive system, as well as the growth process. This process also controls mood, motivation, and fear.[2] After the threat has been removed, the hormones naturally flow back to a normal state of balance. That cup of coffee in the morning gives us that boost of cortisol that we need to feel energy, and get our body moving. When we feel the crash that comes after, we often follow up with another cup of coffee, raising our cortisol again. We think it ends there, but research has found that the effects don’t just last for the day; they also last into the evening. [3] If this is a daily ritual for us, we may be putting ourselves at risk of adrenal stress. What happens in the body when the fight or flight response is activated without the action of fight or flight, is that the level does not flow back to natural state of balance properly. That constant flow of cortisol will increase the stress and eventually make it harder to manage stress. Symptoms of Stress Symptoms of adrenal stress will not show up overnight, but will happen slowly and gradually. Some of the symptoms are fatigue, depression, trouble sleeping, dizziness, muscle weakness and back pain, recurring infections, headaches, inflammation, salt craving, memory problems, hyperpigmentation, and excessive thirst.[4] The Effects of Stress Elevated cortisol levels can cause weight gain, increase in cholesterol, heart disease, and can lower bone density, as well as immune functions. It can also interfere with learning and memory. Long term increases in cortisol can cause damage to the brain and impair mental function. It is associated with cell death, which is associated with increased depression, mood, and nervous system disorders. If cortisol levels fluctuation too often, it can cause depression and mental illness. The executive function which is responsible for decision-making, planning, and reasoning are compromised. Tips for Stress Because caffeine exaggerates stress, it is best to not use any amount of caffeine during times of high stress such as physical exertion, emotional stress, grieving or illness. To initiate the final step in the response get aerobic exercise regularly for about 30 minutes. You can do something that lets your aggression out, such as punching bag, or kick boxing. Reduce anxiety by using meditation, or other relaxation techniques: Get plenty of sleep. Laughter and music helps reduce anxiety. Have healthy relationships. Seek professional counseling when needed. [1] William R. Lovallo, Noha H. Farag, Andrea S. Vincent, Terrie L. Thomas, Michael F. Wilson, Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women, Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, Volume 83, Issue 3, March 2006, Pages 441-447, ISSN 0091-3057 [2] "Chronic stress puts your health at risk - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 July 2013. [3] "Caffeine Affects Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine Activation at Work and Home." Psychosomatic Medicine. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, n.d. Web. 25 July 2013. [4] Wilson, James L. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Petaluma, CA: Smart Publications, 2001. 27-45. Print.

August 1, 2013
by Robert Roopa M.Ed (AE)., M.Ed (CP)., CCC.

beach

The Benefits of Planning/Taking a Vacation

August 1, 2013 14:22 by Robert Roopa M.Ed (AE)., M.Ed (CP)., CCC.  [About the Author]

beach
Many of us plan vacations to get away from our busy schedules. Arlene Uhi’s text, The Complete Idiots Guide to Beating Stress, suggests that much of the stress we experience is often connected to our daily routines (i.e. commute, commitments, and concerns) (Uhi 2006). According to a recent 2009 study completed by Joudrey and Wallace, active leisure pursuits (such as taking a vacation) helped reduce job related stress among a sample of 900 participants (Whitbourne 2010). Beyond the individual benefits, taking a vacation can also help increase family bonding, communication, and solidarity.A vacation can (Uhi 2006): Slow down our frantic routine Temporarily relieve us from our chores Provide space and time to reflect Provide space to recondition negative habits Teach us new stress-beating skills that we can adapt to our daily life. The author suggests that you choose a getaway that will instill calmness and relaxation. Taking a break from routine can help decrease hormone activity related to stress and hyperarousal. Give yourself an opportunity to escape from your daily rituals and experience something new. Any new activity that breaks away from your comfort will likely lead to increased satisfaction and joy. Activities you may want to consider: Pampering Spas Receiving a massage Enter a whirlpool or hot spring Mud bath treatment Getting a Facial Yoga Vacations Learn and practice Yoga Enjoy peaceful surroundings Meet a diverse group of individuals Active Adventures Bicycling Tours Camping Golf or Tennis Camps Multisport tours Walking Tours Beach or Patio Vacations References: Uhl, A. (2006). The complete idiot's guide to beating stress. New York, N.Y: Alpha Books. Whitbourne, Susan (2010). The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health. Psychology Today: Sussex Publishers Counselling Services for York Region

July 10, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

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Traumatic Stress: Natural Disasters

July 10, 2013 23:36 by Cindy Marie Hosszu  [About the Author]

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In a matter of minutes, an entire community can be devastated by forces they cannot control. Whether it is natural or manmade, disasters are traumatic, and nearly everyone who experiences this kind of stress will need help coping with what they have experienced. Traumatic Stress Different types of natural disasters present different stress varying by how close the person is to the event. In some cases people will have trauma from loss, while others may feel guilt because they survived. Females tend to be more susceptible to trauma, but children and the elderly are the most susceptible to serious trauma. In all causes, the experience is an unexpected perceived brush with death. Hurricanes- While hurricanes come with some warning, they also present stress in the wait to see if or where it will strike. This gives some preparation time, and time to gather things that are important, but extreme weather conditions such as thunder, lightning, rain and wind trigger panic reactions. People are left exhausted, and may suffer survivor guilt, and loss, in addition to injury. Earthquake- Earthquakes are unpredictable, and do not have a defined end due to aftershocks. Lack of control combined with the fear of another quake can cause a person to have a heightened sense of fear. Sights and smells keep the person in a constant reminder state. Tornado- Tornadoes give little to no time to prepare. For those who take refuge, not knowing what is happening, while hearing the sounds of destruction around them with no control over their situation is terrifying. Confusion is common. Destruction, sights and smells linger long after. In addition to loss, survivors may feel survivor guilt. Flood- With floods come desolation of land. A sense that the earth is one thing that is stable is lost. Smell of wet, cold, mud and seeing the devastation of landscapes as well as infrastructure leaves an unstable feeling. Floods do not recede quickly, and cleanup may take a long time, creating exhaustion. Wildfires- While fires often come with some warning, wind can change the course, and so many are unsure during the wait. Fire does not just ruin things, or remove them, it consumes them. Entire neighborhoods and communities can turn to ash, leaving people misplaced and vulnerable. [1] Violence- Manmade disasters are unexpected, unfamiliar, and uncontrollable. For those who experience violence at the hands of another human being, trust in others can be lost, leaving them feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and often times, angry with a feeling that it should have been prevented. People may experience nightmares, and be reminded of their grief by seeing upsetting images, and experience upsetting thoughts for some time. Consequences of Traumatic Stress It is important for those who have experienced traumatic stress to understand that some of the feelings they experience are normal, and expected. The time it takes to see resilience will vary with the individual. Some common responses to traumatic stress may include: Uncertainty- Mental and physical exhaustion, shock, disbelief, fear, helplessness, feeling a lack of control, loss of property, loved one, mementos, and income may result in feeling lost or numb. Pre-existing stresses resurface, or seem larger. Anniversaries of traumatic events may trigger the same feelings. Anger at God or others that the survivor may feel were responsible may also cause guilt. Physical- Responses such as headaches, nausea, chest pain, and sleeplessness are common. Relationship changes- Relations become tense, routines disrupted, and fear in losing loved ones may cause clinging in children, and tension in adults. Children may not fully understand what happened, and are put in a more responsible role. With their parents upset, children may feel they are still not safe. Children may feel lack of attention due to attention being placed on clean-up/repair. Parents may feel protective of their children and how they are processing the event. Teens may revert to younger behavior. Older people, who may suffer from previous health concerns, or have trouble hearing or seeing, may feel incompetent or a burden to the situation. Work- Increased stress and disruptions in routines results in fatigue, inattention, conflict with others, reduced time available, reduced wages. Financial- Destruction will change the standard of living. Unpaid bills may cause frustration and seeking financial assistance can add more stress. The financial burden for someone who was financially secure prior to the event will be less than for someone who was already burdened prior to the event. First responders- While working long hours under intense stress over time, first responders witness human harm, and destruction. They may have their own injuries, depression, and PTSD. [2] Resilience factors Social support- Those who have communication and a culture of understanding tend to move more quickly toward emotional resilience. Coping confidence- Sometimes knowing you will be ok, and that you can do it makes it easier to cope. Hope- Looking at a positive future, and being able to see better things to come can make an impact on how the future will be for the survivor, and how quickly they feel better. Therapy focuses on the resilience factors for those who feel overwhelmed by traumatic stress. ________________________________________________________________ [1] Lazarus, P. J., & Jimerson, S. R., Brock, S. E. (2002). Natural Disasters. In S. E. Brock, P. J. Lazarus, & S. R. Jimerson (Eds.), Best Practices in School Crisis Prevention and Intervention (pp. 435-450), Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists and other crisis information posted on the NASP website at www.nasponline.org. [2] "Coping With a Traumatic Event." Emergency Preparedness and Response. CDC, 12 June 2003. Web. 06 July 2013