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Dealing with feelings following disaster

Coping with acts of terror can be overwhelming but experts say you should not ignore those feelings.
(Megan Monro - Fresno)

Coping with acts of terror can be overwhelming but experts say you should not ignore those feelings.

Images of the Boston Marathon bombings, the fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas, and flooding in the Midwest have embedded our TV sets.

While many people have watched the horror unfold, doctors say it's important to manage your mental health. "It's very easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things that are going on and wonder what we can be doing. Wondering whether we're safe or not. Those are common experiences for people to have," said Dr. Robert Oldham with the Fresno County Department of Mental Health. 

Dr. Oldham says people should try to limit their exposure. "There are images that came out, for instance, most recently in Boston. You don't need to watch all the most gory details," said Dr. Oldham.

Doctors say trauma, like the images seen this week, can short circuit our normal fear response. That can cause anxiety to spike to abnormal levels, especially for kids. "Limit the exposure, so kids, especially small children, don't see all the graphic images. But you can talk with them some about what's going on in an age appropriate, kind of developmentally appropriate way," said Dr. Oldham.

Harold Tyson is a therapist and he says it's important for families to talk. "People have the answer inside them. They need to talk about it and bring that answer out in the open and process it," said Tyson.

Experts say traumatic events can bring back frightening memories. 

Tyson says don't rush the healing process. "You're going to have to learn to cope with all this stuff because it's going to happen. I think we just seen the tip of the iceberg," said Tyson. -- Advice can help a nation recover, while communities rebuild. 

If you feel like you or a loved one needs to talk to a professional, you can call the Fresno County Behavioral Health Department at 559-600-4099. 

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