War, terrorist attack: what psychic cost?

War, terrorist attack: what a psychic cost

Exposure to a life threat, an attack or a war situation, or any other traumatic event can trigger so-called "post-traumatic" psychological reactions. One can easily quantify the material damage of a war or count the bodily injuries, or the victims. It is more complex to estimate the repercussions on the mental health of people exposed, more or less directly, to these staggering events.

Post traumatic stress disorder

What are the consequences of a terrifying event on a human? In a majority of cases, the most frequent psychological consequences are a transient state, a psychological shock. We are talking about post traumatic stress.

This disorder can concern the victim himself of the event, the witness of a disaster or the entourage of a victim of a serious accident, assault, serious illness, attack, war ...

Post-traumatic stress, classified as anxiety disorders, is not from exposure to such a threat. Usually, this situation causes an acute stress reaction commonly called. This response is later recognized as the first stage of the general adaptation syndrome regulating stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms.

What are the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder?

Faced with an extreme situation, a person's coping skills are overwhelmed. The immediate reaction is a feeling of helplessness (or horror) and intense fear. In reality, post-traumatic stress is rare,

To characterize this disorder, we must identify a series of symptoms occurring after the event and related to it. If the reactions occur more than 6 months later, it is called delayed post-traumatic stress disorder. In children, memories, dreams, feelings and other reactions are not directly related to the trauma, but the variations of symptoms seen in adults are found in the game.

Overwhelming symptoms

The person repeatedly experiences feelings of distress generated by dreams and involuntary memories of the traumatic event. These same affects, accompanied by physiological reactions, are caused by cues that evoke or resemble the event. The entire picture is rarely present in a person, but when one or more of the overwhelming symptoms appear as a result of exposure to an extreme situation, the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder may be questioned.


It is a mechanism that the person deploys so as not to be confronted with the trauma. A "persistent" avoidance of stimuli, internal and external, linked to the event.

  • Internal: The person makes efforts to avoid or push back memories, thoughts or feelings related to the trauma.
  • External: Many external stimuli can awaken memories or affects of distress: people, places, conversations, objects, ...

Altered cognitions or mood

Besides a persistent negative emotional state, the person may experience a sense of detachment, from others, of strangeness. She may also lose interest in activities heretofore considered important. The inability to experience negative emotions.


Before considering post-traumatic stress management, it is necessary to know the degree of Resilience and palliative activities in the face of stress play a role in psychosocial well-being and physical health with a test.

Once this degree is known, it will be necessary to put in place coping strategies in order to establish a precise profile of the activities most suited to the individual.

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