EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – First Walmart shooting anniversary brought painful memories for El Pasoans and can still cause PTSD symptoms even after a year.
Anniversaries are times to commemorate and help to heal, but can also trigger PTSD symptoms for many, explained Dr. Martin.
“Studies have shown that psycho-social dysfunction can be increased as long as three years afterward,” said Dr. Sarah Martin, assistant professor and chief of the Department of Psychiatry’s Child and Adolescent Division at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
El Pasoans directly and indirectly affected by the shooting can both experience PTSD symptoms and Dr. Martin warns it is important to find ways to cope with the tragedy.
Those directly impacted by the shooting, injured or uninjured, can develop PTSD which needs to be treated. If symptoms are persistently present for a month after the traumatic event, Dr. Martin advises that you should seek help.
Relatives and friends of someone who was involved in the shooting may not develop a full PTSD syndrome but can experience some symptoms.
Dr. Martin explains PTSD symptoms can be a manifest of ‘survivor’s guilt’ which can happen even with Walmart employees that were not at work that day.
Some symptoms are recurring memories of the event, nightmares, avoiding situations that remind of the traumatic event, and always being on the look-out for danger.
Avoiding bad feelings altogether is not the best solution for healing, explains Dr. Martin, as those feelings help us move on with our lives. She adds that feelings keeping us stuck are the ones that need to be worked on.
Those negative emotions can also be redirected by doing something enjoyable such as gardening or jogging, advises Dr. Martin.
She also suggests meeting up with people who helped you through trauma by creating a support group in which talking about the shooting helps the healing process.
“Most importantly, if you’re remembering something sad or traumatic, try to remember it in a way that helps yourself or others and not in a way decreases your functioning or causes problems for your own health,” concluded Dr. Martin.
El Pasoans who need counseling or help coping with PTSD can schedule an appointment at Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic by calling 915-215-8400 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call Emergence Health Network Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline at 915-779-1800.