National Online Review - Fear and the Sandy Hook Shootings

 – December 19, 2012  –– 

During the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, last week, the children and their teachers experienced an amygdala-provoked fight-or-flight response, an outpouring of stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline) that helped hundreds to escape. But over time, these hormones, together with the inability to regulate the steroid cortisol, might contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), characterized in adults by flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and dissociation and in children by rages and sadness while at play, and feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. The popularizing of PTSD in the media has led many who aren’t directly terrorized to use it as an explanation for their own escalating fear. “The mention of post-traumatic stress occurs because there is a shortage of terms for laypeople to use for their vulnerabilities when they’re confronted by trauma,” says Dr. Rachel Yehuda, PTSD expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
- Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Professor, Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
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