How to Cope With Stress After Mass Shootings

Mass shootings “impact you more than you know," doctor says

Following the deadly mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, and a violent weekend in Chicago, people across the country are understandably stressed and overwhelmed.

Even though the shootings took place several hours away, residents in the Chicago area feel uneasy.

“The fact I live in a country where mass shootings are common, and we can brush that aside, if I take a moment to reflect on that, it’s really sad,” said Chicago resident Jacob Lavine.

Dr. Michael Ziffra, a psychiatrist with Northwestern Medicine, said these mass shootings “impact you more than you know.”

“For different people, it’s going to vary if it’s helpful to talk or not talk about these sorts of things,” he said.

What will help, Dr. Ziffra suggested, is to relieve stress whether by exercising, spending time with friends or family or volunteering.

Ziffra said amidst a divisive political climate, many of his patients feel powerless and frustrated with current events.

“For people who are anxious in general, they’re uncertain about they’re life, they’re uncertain about the world,” he said. “These events can add to the uncertainty and sense of powerlessness.”

While it’s often helpful to talk about how you’re feeling, Dr. Ziffra had one caveat.

He said talking — for some who have experienced violence — can trigger traumatic memories or feelings.

As far as coping, Dr. Ziffra said, in addition to volunteering, taking action can help too. 

Suggestions include calling your local member of Congress or senator, donating to campaigns or volunteering with with anti-violence groups.

“That’s a good way for people to channel those negative feelings into something positive,” he said.

Contact Us