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Borderline shooting may create PTSD in survivors

The Borderline Bar and Grill shooting is a tragedy that hits very close to home for our community. The face that the Borderline has been seen as a very safe place to gather for young adults makes it all the worse (and the breakout of severe brush fires the very next day further upsets and frightens us).

Many people who were there, or who had family or loved ones there, will be shaken, will seek comfort with each other, and will begin to feel better day by day. Some, however, may notice intrusive and disruptive symptoms that don’t improve, or even get worse over time.

I’ve posted information below from the Mayo Clinic to help understand if what you’re experiencing might warrant a visit to a therapist to see if it is PTSD. If you think you’re symptoms fit, please don’t wait. There are several excellent techniques, including EMDR, that are extremely helpful with PTSD, and in many situations will clear it very quickly.

Also, if you end up needing treatment and had family members involved in the shooting, you may qualify for California Crime Victims Assistance, which may help pay for counseling.

Here is the information from Mayo Clinic, reprinted without permission but with attribution:

PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.

Intrusive memories

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event

Avoidance

Symptoms of avoidance may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event

Negative changes in thinking and mood

Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Feeling detached from family and friends
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
  • Feeling emotionally numb

Changes in physical and emotional reactions

Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:

  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame

For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:

  • Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
  • Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event

Intensity of symptoms

PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

If you feel suicidal or are having suicidal thoughts, please call for help.  If you need someone to talk to immediately, please call your local Suicide Prevention Center.  In Ventura County, California, the number is 866-998-2243.  The National Suicide Prevention LIfeline number is 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK).   For immediate help, call 911.

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