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Aftermath: Dealing with anxiety, stress

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Sept. 17, 2001
As the nation tries to return to normal after last week's terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, many Americans still suffer from grief, confusion and anxiety.
Even though terrorists assaulted cities in the Northeast, Meridian psychiatrist Dr. Terry Jordan said that people who live in other parts of the country also can be psychologically affected by the disasters.
Jordan, a New York native who has lived in Meridian for six years, is medical director for Alliance Health Center and the geriatric psychiatric unit at Newton Regional Hospital. Jordan talked about the terrorist attacks with The Meridian Star editorial board.
Attacks affect adults
The terrorist attacks could affect adults in several ways, Jordan said. They could suffer emotional numbing, anxieties and hyper-vigilance. They also could avoid situations reminding them of the attacks, which can possibly lead to phobias and ultimately to dysfunction.
Jordan said adults also may suffer flashbacks or nightmares.
Jordan said that children may suffer increased anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, concentration problems. He said they also could experience an increase in headaches and stomachaches, Jordan said.
Younger children who have not yet developed certain levels of coping skills and coping mechanisms may be affected differently than older children. And dealing with children during this time of crisis can be tricky.
Children have concerns
While some children may not understand exactly what is going on in the country right now, Jordan said they still can be affected by the crisis.
Jordan said medications can help people with anxieties, but there are also therapeutic approaches such as cognitive behavioral techniques and psychoanalytical techniques.
As a means of dealing with fear and phobias, Jordan suggested relaxation therapy that includes breathing exercises and systematic relaxation. Those techniques help people control anxiety, he said.
People share grief
Jordan said it's normal for people not directly affected by the terrorist acts to feel sorrow. He said people "can relate. We're still Americans. This is still our country, and we take ownership in what's happening."
Jordan said many people have experienced emotional numbing and anxieties about flying and safety. Some of the reactions may last; others may fade over time.
It's normal for everyone in the country to come together, he said, a process he calls a "crisis response."
Jordan said he isn't surprised to find Americans turning to religion for comfort during the crisis.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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