Impact of mass shootings on mental, emotional health

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — So far this year, There have been 130 mass shootings in the U.S. This has mental and emotional health experts discussing the impact those incidents are having on how people view them.

UNCW Professor Dr. Kate Nooner says hearing news of mass shooting like the ones in Nashville, Raleigh, Buffalo, and Uvalde, Texas, can trigger increased worrying, stress, and fears.

She also says in some cases, people have feelings of indifference or lack of concern, due to being desensitized by the increased frequency of mass shootings.

“There are a couple of components to that. You know, one is just that we’ve seen so many of these, and nothing really changes. So people, –it’s hard for people to get motivated to say okay well I’m going to be able to be safer in this way, or this or that is going to happen because we haven’t seen that. The other piece of it, is part of the stress response. For one of the responses, can be something called dissociation, where you can shut down, but even apathy in general –people shouldn’t mistake for people doing okay,” said Kate Nooner, UNCW psychology professor and department chair.

Nooner says desensitization or apathy can impact how you respond to other things in your day-to-day life.

“It lowers your response to reward. So, where you would have said okay if I eat this much food or have this much alcohol or do this much of something, my brain says yep your rewarded you can stop. We’ll with your reward sensitivity getting lowered, you need to do more of that thing or your brain to say okay, it’s time to stop,” said Nooner.

Some things you can do to help cope with the impacts are increasing exercise and sleep.

Dr. Robert Colucci, a psychiatrist with Novant Health said he encourages speaking about it with those you are close with.

“Reaching out to family members and friends, having a good support system in place just from day to day living. You know, with so much that’s going on in the world today, above and beyond these tragedies that fluctuate our day to day life –is that you have to have a good support system. So, you’re able to express your feelings. Internalizing these feelings and holding feelings and not expressing them can really be very detrimental to one’s physical and emotional well-being,” said Robert Colucci, Novant Health psychiatrist.

Both Nooner and Colucci offered a reminder that after tragedy, it is normal to feel anxious, to worry, and even feel a sense of panic.

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