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"I see all these stories on the news that are so disturbing. They keep me awake at night and I can't stop thinking about them. I worry I'm not safe, that my loved ones are not safe, or if I could be capable of doing such things..."
If you have heard a story or stories of a tragic event(s) and are noticing significant distress, you may be experiencing vicarious or secondary trauma. Though vicarious and secondary trauma most commonly impact individuals in helping professions (i.e. clinicians) that are frequently exposed to trauma disclosures-anyone who learns of or hears of a tragic event can be impacted. With all the stories, images, and videos readily available on the news and social media, many are now frequent witnesses to trauma and experience symptoms including hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, intrusive memories, changes to their beliefs about themselves or the world (i.e. “the world is not safe,” “my children are not safe,” “I am not safe,” “what if I am capable of such things and am a danger to others?”), difficulties sleeping, feeling on edge, apathy, excessive worry, and/or experiencing a variety of imagined distressing/anxiety provoking scenarios. Therapy can support you in developing skills that can help reduce the frequency/intensity of experienced distress, processing, and developing a different relationship with the trauma narratives impacting you.
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