As reports of devastation in the Mid East region of the world continue; few Americans can escape front page photos and tearful television interviews. These new images may force some to revisit memories of tragedy at home. The American involvement in the War on Terror and recent battles with Mother Nature have left lasting effects emotionally and psychologically on many survivors and spectators.
“Chronic stress, which can be provoked by viewing repeated visual images of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, enhances the size and sensitivity of the part of the brain that increases the potential to feel fear and anxiety,” explains Steven Pitt, DO, an osteopathic forensic and general psychiatrist from Scottsdale, Ariz.
Dr. Pitt suggests these simple actions to help patients and families cope with fear and anxiety:
Eat well, exercise and rest
Try to avoid smoking or drinking
Take breaks each day to relax
Speak with friends and family about your concerns
Participate in local activities that might help individuals or a community
“It is important that you speak openly with friends and family about any anxiety you might be experiencing from current events,” he advises. “If the anxiety and fear persist, visit your family physician for recommended treatments of trauma.”
Dr. Pitt explains that the preliminary visit to the physician would consist of a few brief questions about the effects that current events are having on your health. In addition, questions about similar experiences in your or your family’s history may assist in finding an appropriate routine or treatment to cope with the stressors. A stressor is any type of event that might stimulate the anxiety.
“Your primary care physician will identify whether the addition of a mental health professional would be advantageous,” Dr. Pitt explains. “But oftentimes, a simple change in your daily routine can make a substantial difference in stress levels.”
Preventive medicine is just one aspect of care osteopathic physicians (DOs) provide. Osteopathic Physicians (DOs) are fully-licensed to prescribe medicine and practice in all specialty areas including surgery. DOs are trained to consider the health of the whole person and use their hands to help diagnose and treat their patients.
Working in conjunction with the American Osteopathic Association and other leading mental health and medical organizations across the nation, America’s HealthTogether (AHT) has pioneered a groundbreaking partnership to respond to America’s new exposure to terrorism. Fully supported by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this national initiative seeks to enhance primary care providers’ awareness of mental health issues and strengthen their capacity to care for their patients’ emotional and psychological needs.