post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may try to
deal with problems in ways that cause more harm than good. This is called
negative coping. Negative coping means you use quick fixes that may make a
situation worse in the long run.
Marjorie Lindholm is a survivor of the 1999 school shootings at Columbine
High School in Littleton, Colo. Lindholm, who wrote a book titled A
Columbine Survivor's Story, spoke with WebMD about her experiences and
shares her advice for school shooting survivors and their loved ones.
Taking a lot of drugs or alcohol
to feel better is called
substance abuse. You may try to use drugs or alcohol
to escape your problems, help you sleep, or make your symptoms go away.
Substance abuse can cause serious problems. Drinking or using drugs can
put your relationships, your job, and your health in jeopardy. You may become
more likely to be mean or violent. When you are under the influence of alcohol
or drugs, you may make bad decisions.
Certain situations may cause you
stress, make you angry, or remind you of bad memories. Because of this, you may
try to avoid other people at times. You may even avoid your friends and
Avoiding others can make you feel isolated. Isolation is
when you tend to be alone a lot, rather than spending time around other
When you distance yourself from others, your problems may
seem to build up. You may have more negative thoughts or feel like you're
facing life all alone.
Anger and violent behavior
You may feel a lot of
anger at times. Your anger may cause you to lose your temper and do reckless
things. You may distance yourself from people who want to help.
This is understandable. It's natural to feel angry after going through
something traumatic. But anger and violent behavior can cause problems in your
life and make it harder for you to recover.
You also may cope by doing
things that are dangerous. For example, you may drive too fast or be quick to
start a fight when someone upsets you. You may end up hurting yourself or
How you deal with stress also can be dangerous. If
you start smoking, or smoke more, you put your health in danger. Eating to
relieve stress also can be dangerous if you gain too much weight.
Working too much
Work is a good thing. You learn
new things, interact with others, and gain confidence. But working too much can
be a form of avoidance. You may be working to avoid memories or to help
yourself forget about the event. This is dangerous because:
You may not seek help for your PTSD.
You're not spending time with your family and friends. Being with
them and getting their support may help you recover and deal better with
You may work so much that you eat less and get little sleep.
This can hurt your health, so you're more likely to get sick.