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The Boston Marathon bombings killed three people, physically injured nearly 200 others, and traumatized thousands more. While the wellness of many was affected by physical injuries, the events of the 19th of April has caused immeasurable damage to the emotional wellbeing of countless others, the healing of which may be measured in small steps over months, and possibly years. Even if you were nowhere near the blasts, the Marathon explosions will leave a legacy of emotional scars along with the physical ones. While those close to the explosions were visually traumatised, while others were sick with worry from afar, knowing that their loved one was running in the Marathon or cheering on runners near the finish line.
There has been speculation that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an inevitable outcome for many who were at the scene of the explosions. While some will undoubtedly develop PTSD, this is not the only response you can have to frightening events. PTSD only affects a small proportion of people who have been exposed to a trauma. Some people develop an anxiety disorder, for example, or become depressed, while the majority of others, though having some form of emotional response, develop no illness at all.
There are two types of event that can trigger PTSD; either a traumatic experience that involves a significant threat—or reality—of death, serious injury, or damage to physical integrity, or an event, like this one, that inspires intense fear, helplessness, or horror. You don’t have to experience the event directly to develop PTSD; you can witness is or be confronted with it in some other way.
The condition generally causes three kinds of symptoms; hyperarousal (in which you become irritable, easily startled, and constantly on guard), intrusion (in which the traumatic event involuntarily pops up in the mind as vivid memories, nightmares, or flashbacks) and/or emotional numbing (in which you try to avoid feelings, thoughts, persons, places, and situations that evoke memories of the trauma). If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact a mental health professional, who can help to remove the obstacles to you getting on with life.