Fighting Trauma and Depression in the Face of Terrorism and War —

7 08 2008

Source: Market watch

Help From Extended Family Relationships Is Often Not as Accessible as It Once Was

Last update: 3:06 a.m. EDT Aug. 6, 2008
PASADENA, CA, Aug 06, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) — writer Gina Stepp discusses the emotional and mental fallout of terrorist attacks that attempted to disrupt the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
Monday morning, August 4th, 16 police were killed and16 others were injured in a border attack in the Xinjiang region of China, home to the largest Muslim population in China.
The attack comes on the heels of Sunday’s report by the United Kingdom’s Times Online that Spain is secretly gearing up to deal with threats of looming terrorism that may be faced by local tourist resorts during the busy August season. And while United States officials insist that Europe is much more susceptible to terrorist threats than America, the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center proved that the U.S. is not immune to danger.
Whether or not such assurances of American safety are true, the emotional and mental fallout is the same in the U.S. as elsewhere in the West. Families and communities feel they have more reason than ever to worry about the mental effects of trauma and depression. But do they? Some would argue that life was even harder for previous generations — those that struggled through the many and varied hardships of earlier times. But there is one additional factor that is often not considered in such arguments. Families are more likely to be scattered in modern times, and the relatively modern invention of the “nuclear family” has already given way in many cases to a more fragmented single-parent version. Help from extended family relationships is often not as accessible as it once was, and this weakening of society’s fabric contributes to the weakening of community and family resilience.
In other words, in Western society and culture people may be less resilient than ever in the face of trauma, while serious threats to well-being may actually have increased.
“Because of such considerations, communities would love to know how to prepare people for psychologically stressful events and to increase the potential for recovery,” says a new feature article from Vision, titled “Building Resilience in a Turbulent World.” “Researchers in the field of positive psychology, in turn, are busily working to find out what traits are shared by those people who demonstrate a greater capacity to cope, in the hope of helping others to become more resilient to stress, trauma and depression.”
Vision presents the latest research to help families build this kind of resilience, discussing the topic further a related Blog titled “Family Matters” at Vision Media.
Stepp notes that some people are born with a naturally positive outlook, and optimism is seen as a key factor in resilience, but she also points out that researchers now know that new experiences and supportive family relationships can literally change brain structure. This understanding has led psychologists to understand that optimism and resilience can be built, and that adults as well as children can, to some degree, be inoculated against depression. However, stresses Stepp, building resilience is nearly impossible outside of the protective influence of positive interpersonal relationships.
About Vision: is an online magazine with quarterly print issues that feature in-depth coverage of current social issues, religion and the Bible, history, family relationship topics and insights into philosophical, moral and ethical issues in society today. For a free subscription to the Vision quarterly magazine,

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