After Paris Attacks, Groups Share Advice on Coping With Fear

Mental health groups and the American Humane Association shared tips for dealing with the possible psychological side effects of terrorism.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris more than a week ago, groups are reaching out to ensure people are coping with any potential psychological side effects.

Last week, leaders from the Pennsylvania Medical Society and Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society (PaPS) said fighting terrorism is not only an issue of emergency preparedness, but it should also address things such as depression, anxiety, and fear that may grow.

“By scaring innocent people, making headlines, raising fears, and attacking symbolic or soft targets, terrorists at that moment change the way people live their lives, even if a person’s risk of facing the same scenario is low,” Dr. Scott Shapiro, PAMED president, said in a statement. “It’s really important for all of us to realize that terrorism is also a psychological tactic.”

The point of terrorism is to “instill fear,” and it can be difficult for some to move on with their daily routines after a violent attack, Daniel Antonius, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Buffalo, told Voice of America.

“The underlying fear of future terror attacks may linger much longer, which may have significant long-term implications on everything from individuals to economy and politics.”

To help those who may be suffering from anxiety as a result of the Paris tragedy, Shapiro and Dr. Robert E. Wilson, president of PaPS, advised people to pay attention to their mental health and sleep and diet habits as well as to talk to their doctors if they experience symptoms of anxiety.

Meanwhile, the American Humane Association released tips to help kids deal with any fear caused by the attacks.

“Children are especially vulnerable at a time like this,” Dr. Robin Ganzert, AHA president and CEO, said in a statement. “Parents, teachers, and other caregivers need to be especially sensitive to how children are reacting and help them cope with their fears and feelings.”

Tips suggested that adults limit children’s exposure to media reports, prepare to talk to kids in the event they ask if they could be affected by similar attacks, and to watch for symptoms of stress.

People lay flowers at the French Embassy in Kiev in memory of the victims Paris terror attacks. (iStock Editorial/Thinkstock)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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