Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Aftermath of a School Shooting

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Aftermath of a School Shooting

By Fiona McDermut

            After yet another school shooting in the United States left 19 children dead, many parents in grief, and a multitude of survivors in agony, it is time we recognize the impact that is left on the survivors of such devastating events. Although children are known to be particularly resilient, such impactful experiences may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

            In children, PTSD symptoms are often overlooked or confused with other psychiatric disorders. These symptoms may include restlessness, fidgety behavior, trouble focusing or staying organized, reliving traumatic events through thought or play, nightmares, inconsistent sleep patterns, intense fear or sadness, angry outbursts, avoiding topics associated with the traumatic event, and feelings of denial. These emotions may be triggered by something that reminds the child of the event.

            Such devastating events are hard for anyone to understand, especially a child. If your child has experienced trauma, the symptoms can be best treated if they get in contact with a mental healthcare provider as soon as possible. Even if the child is not ready to talk about the events, many psychologists and psychotherapists can understand the situation by observing the child’s behaviors. Multi modal psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy is frequently used in these situations. In certain situations, your child’s therapist may recommend the addition of safe and helpful medication.

            School should be a safe space for children, but after recent events, apprehensiveness in regard to attending school is understandable. If you or your child is experiencing extreme persistent fear following the recent events, your child will benefit from meeting with a mental health professional to get necessary treatment for his or her symptoms.

            If you or someone you know is struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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