After two mass shootings in less than one week, mental health experts say the effects these horrific events have on the American public are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 22, 2021, 10 people were killed at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. This event follows the deaths of eight people, including six Asian women, in shootings at Atlanta spas a week before.
“When there’s something about the case that resonates with you and that you identify with, it’s going to have a pretty significant impact,” said Dr. Ronald Acierno, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UTHealth’s McGovern Medical School. Post-traumatic stress disorder, general anxiety, depression, and substance abuse are four of the main conditions that can develop because of trauma, especially in those who personally witness a traumatic event, according to Acierno.
The American Psychiatric Association outlines common reactions following a disaster, including changes in sleep, mood changes, decreased energy, changes in appetite, problems concentrating, headaches or other body pains, and increased isolation. They surveyed American adults in February, and many reported that since the pandemic started, they have had undesired weight changes, are drinking more alcohol to cope with stress, and are not getting their desired amount of sleep. This is particularly true of parents, essential workers, young people, and people of color.
These reported health impacts signal many adults may be having difficulties managing stressors, including grief and trauma, and are likely to lead to significant, long-term individual and societal consequences, including chronic illness and additional strain on the nation’s health care system.
Read more at ABCNews.com.