Hattiesburg psychologist explains effects of trauma after violence

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. An expert said this is a great time to talk about normalizing getting help for mental health.
Published: May. 9, 2023 at 10:42 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Last week, you could have read stories about shootings from around South Mississippi, such as a workplace shooting in Jones County.

Clinical Psychologist and President of Southern Behavioral Medicine Associates Dr. Geralyn Datz said we all may react differently to traumas, like violence, especially if we are personally affected. She said there isn’t a right or wrong way to feel.

“In the first few weeks of being exposed to any stressor, most people feel anxious, worried and more on guard,” said Datz.

Datz said for victims, and for those who witnessed violence, depression is one of many other symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.

“The event coming back in dreams or flashbacks during the day that doesn’t stop or don’t decrease over time,” Datz said. “Avoidance, maybe avoiding going to work or talking about the event, being triggered by sounds or sights or smells.”

Datz said when you experience all these symptoms all at once for a long period of time, you need to seek help for possible post-traumatic stress disorder. Datz said treatment is different for everyone.

“That maybe faith, that may be seeking treatment, there are medications that can help people who have long-standing responses to stress,” Datz said. “We know that there are therapies.”

Datz said trauma is unpredictable and uncontrollable, so to combat it, she said to stay present and focus on the things you can control.

Nationally, in the medical community, the mental effects of violence and trauma are a topic of discussion. Datz said people who are seeking treatment are very much on edge about the increase in violence.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Datz said this is a great time to talk about normalizing getting help for mental health.

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