People exposed to more than six hours of daily coverage of a disaster are more likely to feel vulnerable, despairing, alienated and irritable.
They are also more likely to suffer from feelings of a loss of identity or a sense of failure, as well as sleeplessness.
They can also experience intrusive thoughts and images of the event. And small, daily events can have a bigger impact than usual.
Apart from limiting exposure to media, there are things people can do to look after themselves:
- make sure they get enough sleep;
- exercise regularly;
- eat well;
- avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope;
- spend time with loved ones;
- do things they enjoy;
- get back into their usual routine.
They might worry the same sort of thing will happen to them and their family, and fail to understand it's a one-time, discrete event.
Parents shouldn't necessarily try to shield their children. Keeping secrets is not possible in this day and age, and trying to hide events can make things more terrifying.
Instead parents should try to limit the amount of media the child is exposed to, while explaining what has happened and answering their questions.
- It is also important to speak to the child about their feelings and do something with them, like playing a game or heading outside.
- Providing comfort and affection will help the child to feel safe.
- Parents can also remind their child there are plenty of good things that happen that don't make the news.