Many people will be impacted by the horror of the bombing at the Boston Marathon. What makes this especially difficult is that many of the wounded and witnesses are from outside the Boston area. Right now, and in weeks to come, there will be trauma treatment professionals available in Boston to help people who are experiencing shock, flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety and other symptoms related to what they experienced.
People returning to their hometowns may be one of a only a few who attended the Marathon, and may be alone in having witnessed the bombing and its aftermath. It is especially important for these people and their families to be aware of trauma symptoms, and to seek help if they develop. Early symptoms can include:
- A sense of numbing, detachment, or absence of emotional responsiveness
- A reduction in awareness of his or her surroundings (e.g., being in a daze)
- Derealization — sense that things are unreal
- Depersonalization — sense of not being oneself
- Dissociative amnesia (i.e., inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma)
- Persistent re-experiencing of the trauma in at least one of the following ways: recurrent images, thoughts, dreams, illusions, flashbacks, or a sense of reliving the episode, or distress on exposure to reminders of the episode
- Marked avoidance of stimuli that arouse recollections of the trauma (e.g., thoughts, feelings, conversations, activities, places, people)
- Marked symptoms of anxiety or increased arousal (e.g., difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerate startle response, motor restlessness).
If you or a loved one experience symptoms lasting more than 2 days post-trauma, it would be good to seek the advice of a therapist trained in treating trauma. A good place to start is the EMDR International Association at www.emdria.org or the EMDR Institute at www.emdr.com . You can also learn more about EMDR in the treatment of trauma here .