The grass fires Reno County (and Kansas for that matter) has been dealing with can be considered a traumatic experience for some individuals. Many mental health issues may arise in the aftermath of the disaster such as depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is hard to predict when the effects of these disorders will set in. It can be weeks, months, or even years after the event. That is why it is so important to know the signs and symptoms.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the following are common symptoms of trauma:
- Feelings become intense and sometimes are unpredictable. Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression are coming manifestations of this.
- Flashbacks: repeated and vivid memories of the event that lead to physical reactions such as rapid heartbeat or sweating
- Confusion or difficulty making decisions
- Sleep or eating issues
- Fear that the emotional event will be repeated
- A change in interpersonal relationships skills, such as an increase in conflict or a more withdrawn and avoidant personality
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and chest pain
It is also important not to wait until the symptoms become unbearable to seek help. The sooner you get treatment, the better!
It is not uncommon for children to “act out” after a traumatic event. Behavior changes could be minor or major depending on the child’s developmental level, previous trauma exposures, and familial supports. The APA outlines these symptoms to look for in children:
- the development of new fears
- separation anxiety (particularly in young children)
- sleep disturbance, nightmares
- loss of interest in normal activities
- reduced concentration
- decline in schoolwork
- somatic complaints
It is important to note that some children don’t need professional help after a traumatic event. Some children just need to talk through the experience and regain stability in their home lives. However, if you do notice an adolescent struggling, make sure you address the issue. This is when Mental Health First Aid will come in handy! Check out the Mental Health First Aid page to see upcoming trainings.