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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
January 9, 2015     The Catalina Islander
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January 9, 2015

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Guest Column m m Stress symptoms after events like the storm are normal Dozens of local residents expe- rienced traumatic situations relat- ed to the deadly storm that hit Avalon last week. Whether the experi- ence was related to wit- nessing a death or injury to another person, being injured yourself, having a boat destroyed (which in many cases was also a home or business), fear- ing for a loved one in danger, risking your own life or health to help oth- ers, or any number of other crisis situations that occurred on the night of Wednesday, Dec. 30, many Island residents may be experiencing the continuing effects of having suf- fered an acute trauma. It is important to know that after experiencing a traumatic event, it can be normal for people to have a variety of reactions, including: depression, nightmares, increased startle reactions, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, fatigue, feel- ing easily overwhelmed, difficulty concentrating, d!fficulty mak- ing decisions, disbelief, moodi- ness, irritability, feeling "numb" and/or apathetic, feelings of guilt, extreme anxiety or worry, fear, anger, or withdrawal. These are normal stress-relat- ed symptoms that will typically resolve without professional help within a month. For your mental health it is helpful to take care of yourself during the aftermath of a crisis situ- ation. Dawn Sampson Guest Columnist Tips for taking care of yourself You can take care of yourself by doing the following: exercise, get adequate sleep, drink plenty of water, eat nutri- tious and easy-to digest foods, allow yourself to cry and to express feel- ings, use your social support sys- tem (don't spend too much time alone), accept help from others, notice positives/don't blame your- self or others, limit your deci- sion-making to just today's needs, engage in calming activities (listen to music, get a massage, meditate and/or pray, take deep breaths, take a hot bath or shower, visual- ize a peaceful scene, etc.), avoid alcohol or other drugs (they may delay recovery). Children also experience stress from trauma If you are the parent of a child who has experienced a trauma, it is important to know that children may experience many of the same symptoms as adults. They may also have trouble in school, or regress to an ear- lier stage of development (such as when a child who has been fully toilet-trained starts wetting the bed). Tips for parents Parents can help children through the effects of a traumatic situation by letting them know you are willing to talk and really listening to them, answering ques- tions simply and honestly, reas- suring your child of his/her safety and security, letting your child know he/she is not to blame for the situation, maintaining normal daily routines as much as pos- sible, and remember that your own trauma reactions will affect your child. For both adults and children it can be helpful to limit exposure to disturbing television, newspa- per and/or Facebook reports about the incident, which can re-trigger stress reactions. Where to go for help It is recommended to seek the help of a counselor for yourself or your child if symptoms last longer than a month, if you are unable to eat or sleep for an extended period, or if you are experiencing any suicidal thoughts. For information on mental health services available in Avalon and/or on the mainland please call the Catalina Island Medical Center's social services depart- ment at 310-510-0520. For more information on deal- ing with disaster-related trau- mas, please see the U.S. Dept. of Veteran's Affairs website at: http://www.pt sd.va.gov/public/ types/disasters/index.asp. Dawn Sampson is a licensed clinical social worker, and the Director of Social Services at the Catalina Island Medical Center. Send your stories and photos to editor@ thecatalinaislander.com We ore o our to meet Catalina Island Golf Cart Catalina Island Segways Lloyd's of Avalon THE CATALINA ISLANDER Friday, January 9, 2015 == 5