Washington, DC -- It goes without saying that most of America is feeling the effects of stress brought by images and stories of the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, and the crash in Pennsylvania. While direct victims and their families are eligible for counseling services, millions of other Americans need to be aware that stressful feelings are normal and there are steps they can take to feel better.
The most common symptoms of stress include irritability, anger, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, sadness, depression, headaches, nausea, hyperactivity, lack of concentration, and increased alcohol and drug abuse.
"Dealing with the aftermath of any emergency is extremely difficult, but the stress caused by these events is almost without precedent," said Joe M. Allbaugh, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Feeling overwhelmed, even depressed is common. People need to know that acknowledging stress is the first step toward healing."
Some ways to cope with stress include:
- Talking about your feelings with family, friends and neighbors. Sharing
common experiences helps individuals deal with and overcome anxiety and
feelings of helplessness.
- Getting back into daily routines as soon as possible and trying to
maintain good eating and sleeping habits.
- Getting physical exercise each day, even if it is only going for an
- Giving yourselves and your family an occasional break from cares, worries,
and disaster-associated problems.
- Realizing that not everyone reacts to stress in the same way or heals at the same pace.
Mental health experts say that disaster-related stress may surface days or even months following the event, and affects children as well as adults. Parents can find ways to assist their children in handling stress associated with the events on the FEMA for Kids web site, at www.fema.gov/kids
A variety of counseling assistance is available for victims and family members of victims of the terrorist attacks. Some numbers they can call to obtain counseling assistance includes:
Public Safety Officers Benefits Program: 1-888-744-6513
New York Crime Victims Compensation Board: 1-800-247-8035
Virginia Compensation Commission: 1-800-552-4007
Pennsylvania Compensation Commission: 1-800-692-7292
American Red Cross: 1-877-RED CROSS
American Airlines: 1-800-245-0999
United Airlines: 1-800-932-8555