Moving on: How those affected by deadly Paris attacks may be coping
Friday’s attacks in Paris left many people physically and mentally affected, not just in the city itself but across the globe, according to clinical psychologist Dawn DeCunha.
“This just exceeds anything that the world has seen so far in terms of its malevolence,” DeCunha, a specialist in trauma at Psychology Works in Markham, Ont., told CTV News Channel Monday. “I think for the people in Paris, in particular, it’s going to take a very long time.”
The degree to which an individual may be affected depends on how he or she perceives the event.
“I think it is important to understand there is such a thing as vicarious or secondary trauma,” DeCunha said. “You don’t have to be anywhere near the vicinity of a horrific event like this in order to start showing symptoms of trauma.”
DeCunha explained there are different components involved in how people react to traumatic experiences, and in particular Friday’s events.
She said the physical and mental repercussions are the two main components of what people are likely experiencing right now.
“There’s massive brain and body changes, there’s adrenaline pumping through our system, there’s cortisol,” DeCunha says of the physical effects of trauma. “So our bodies shut down at so many levels.”
In terms of the mental repercussions, DeCunha says people are likely still trying to make sense of what’s happened.
“Before Friday the 13th, people could go shopping, they could go to the theatre, they could go to a soccer game – and assume they would come back safe and sound to their families,” she said. “Those assumptions about ordinary activities of daily living have entirely been suspended in Paris.”
DeCunha says she hopes everyone – those in Paris and in other parts of the world – will seek and receive the help they need in order to move on from Friday’s attacks.