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Coping with emotional toll of watching tornado coverage

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BATON ROUGE - Red Cross volunteers from the Baton Rouge area are in Oklahoma City, helping with the tornado relief efforts.

An EF 5 tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma Monday. The twister annihilated parts of the town, killing 24 and injuring 200 others. The devastation is enormous and so is the psychological toll.

Clinical psychologist Jesse Lambert says that you don't have to be in Oklahoma to feel the emotional impact; watching it on TV can be traumatic.

"Today alone, I had two conversations with people who indicated they were watching last night. And they had to shut it off because they were emotional, teary eyed," said Lambert.

"By watching this and seeing the devastation over and over again, it's almost as vicarious or observational type trauma."

Children and adults deal with the trauma differently, he says. Children need reassurance that they are going to be okay. They may need adults to tell them they are safe. Adults may also need psychological help to combat a case of posttraumatic stress disorder. Either way, everyone who experiences trauma should seek help, he says.

Lambert also says that overcoming the emotional toll could take months, if not years.


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