According to an article on CNN, the person believed to be responsible for the shooting reportedly had post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. So what is PTSD? The American Psychiatric Association describes PTSD as a disorder in which symptoms occur in someone who is exposed to a trauma, such as a death or serious injury or violent sexual act.
This trauma can either be as a result of a direct exposure, witnessing that trauma in person, learning about a trauma happening to a close friend or relative, or being in an occupation in which you are exposed repeatedly to trauma.
The psychological reaction to the trauma is then experienced in different types of symptoms such as nightmares, avoiding thinking about the trauma, difficulties in sleep, and worries that the world is a dangerous place.
Although the focus right now may be on the impact of the gunman’s PTSD, it is important to realize that for those individuals who survived the shooting, including those who weren’t directly hurt, but witnessed the events yesterday, may be a risk for developing PTSD symptoms. For those injured in yesterday’s shooting, the emotional injuries may have a bigger impact and may take much longer to heal than the physical injuries.
Even though PTSD is specifically not defined as witnessing a traumatic event through electronic media, watching nonstop on the scene coverage of these types of events such as the Navy Yard shootings may still have a negative impact, especially on children.