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Experts: Aftershock of Boston blasts could cause PTSD for some

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Mental health professionals say after the events making headlines last week, this week is going to be tough to handle.

Experts say this week is the aftershock, when people are actually getting the chance to absorb what went on.  Some people may even develop a minor case of post traumatic stress disorder.

People think of PTSD as a war zone disorder - what people returning from war develop.

But the truth is, it can happen to anyone who experiences a traumatic event.  Whether that be a sexual assault, the Boston Marathon bombings or the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas.

No matter the case, there is help out there.

Shock is setting in for the runners and families who witnessed the Boston Marathon bombings.  The aftershock, though, could have lifelong effects.

"Its exhausting.  It would drive you mad," said Carl Griggs, who knows the feeling all too well.

What he saw in combat 40 years ago, as an 18-year-old in Vietnam, has turned into his own battle with PTSD.

"I would rehearse battles and go over them in my head over and over and over thinking that if I went to the left ... would this guy still be alive. If I went to the right ... would this change the outcome of that firefight," Griggs said.

The thoughts tortured his dreams.

"Crazy dreams of the enemy rushing you and your weapon jams and won't fire. You wake up in a cold sweat, have to get up in the middle of the night continuously," Griggs said.

Those feelings aren't reserved for war veterans.

Anyone who sees a traumatic event can be diagnosed with PTSD, whether they witnessed a death, saw or experienced serious injury or sexual assault.

"So something like being exposed to the bombing in Boston would fit the criteria. It is significant. It is intense, could involve injury," said psychologist George Dent.

Dent says even if someone weren't there, seeing the images is enough to develop feelings of fear or anxiety. Although it might not be enough to be diagnosed as PTSD.

"I think many people realized that after 911 they could recall the images of planes going into the buildings," Dent said.

Dent says it is a normal response to have trouble sleeping, or feel anxious or scared after horrific events.

And what happens in the coming weeks is important to readjust.

"That is going to be one of the big tasks, getting back to living again, approaching the world as they did in the past, stop living in isolation," Griggs said.

Griggs got help six years ago. He hopes others don't wait as long.

"I would say to them, get help, get counseling as soon as possible," he said.

Experts say if anyone is having a tough time coping, they should talk about it with close friends and family or church group and find the support that works for the individual.  If that doesn't work, seek, professional help.

And if any veteran is struggling, the VA Hospital can help.

The number to the Veterans Crisis Line is 1-800-273-8255. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a 24/7 suicide hotline that free and confidential, also offers a nationwide network of crisis centers.  They may be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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