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Terrorism and Mental Health: An Obscure Association

Published on Nov 24, 2022   -  4 min read


Terrorism provokes fear, inflicts physical and mental trauma, and has long-lasting effects on the survivors. This article speaks in detail below.

What Is Terrorism?

Terrorism can be considered a man-made disaster that provokes fear amongst the common folk and causes mass destruction. It is based on the principle of violence to achieve or prove the power of specific organizations or radical groups. These acts are unjustifiable under any circumstance. Terrorism is not just a physical attack but can also include any violence that involves biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons.

What Are the Effects of Terrorism?

Terrorism affects not only individuals but engulfs the nation as a whole. The effects of terrorism are subjective and differ from person to person.

Some common products that a nation as whole faces are as follows:

What Are the Effects on Individuals Who Witness the Event?

The people who witness the terrorist attacks from afar, like from the news or the media sources, have a negative psychological impact on those events. But the intensity and the duration for which the effect lasts are shorter. Therefore, these people can be termed remotely affected individuals. Sometimes, the sole aim of the inflictors is to spread nationwide chaos and disorder.

What Are the Effects of Terrorism on the Mental Health of Exposed Individuals?

According to the research, it has been noted that any traumatic event has a long-lasting impact on human lives and affects lives physically, socially, and mentally. The experience can have a wide range of consequences which range from mild to severe:

Moderate Symptoms Include:

Moderate behavioral changes require medical interventions; these individuals benefit from psychological therapies and counseling.

Severe Symptoms Include:

These patients require specialized attention and extensive treatments.

What Are the Effects of Terrorism on the Mental Health of Children?

When a child is exposed to violent events during childhood, it leaves a more significant impact. It affects both the cognitive and behavioral development of the child, and the child can present with the following:

Specific Psychiatric Disorders: This includes post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety disorder.

Nonspecific Distress: No specific disorder is noted, but the symptoms like Aggressive or violent behavior and throwing mood tantrums are observed. Being quiet, reluctant, and afraid to socialize are also symptomatic of being afflicted.

Health Issues: Mental stress affects healthy living as these children are often depressed and do not have access to proper diet or exercise as needed leading them to develop health issues like malnutrition, vitamin deficiency disorders, etc. These children often need to take many sick leaves, which makes them incapable of working efficiently and slows their educational milestones.

Social Conflicts: These children often face relationship difficulties or have family conflicts due to their weird behaviors. These children also have a hard time coping with their financial needs. Socializing and making friends becomes a challenge to such children. This childhood trauma can last longer, and a child can face mental health issues even as an adult. Repeated incidences of this can either devastate the child or make them feel it's normal and repeat the act.

What Are the Mental Effects Post Terrorist Attacks?

After the terrorist attack, it impacts everyone, and even the memories of the attack are enough to affect the person again. Not just the commandos or the first line of defense, but even the civilians who are a part of the attack and the survivors as well are affected by post-event mental health issues.

Some common symptoms that are suggestive of the possibility of the development of psychiatric disorders are as follows:

  • Feeling numb.

  • Withdrawn or disconnected.

  • Isolated from others.

  • Avoids activities, places, or people that bring back event memories.

What Are the Ways to Deal With the Mental Effects of Terrorism?

The people affected by terrorism should be dealt with great care and patience, as the incident is emotionally and mentally devastating. Therefore, the treatment mainly aims to overcome the trauma and replace depressing and negative thoughts with positive ones. In addition, various camps or motivational activities can be conducted to distract and encourage the folks. The only way to help the survivors is to lead them to help themselves. The individuals need the accept the trauma and learn to overcome the block.

A specialist might be needed in severe cases to guide and overcome the psychological impact.

Treatment methods can include

  • Psychotherapy.

  • Counseling.

  • Self-help guides.

These individuals are also trained to deal with the loss and overcome that to lead a better everyday life.

What Are the Measures Government Can Take To Prevent Terrorism?

  • Maintain healthy international relations.

  • Prevent terrorist attacks through exchanging intelligence information.

  • Built an emergency protection team to act quickly as a rescue team.

  • Conduct awareness campaigns.

  • Control ways to finance terrorism.

  • Provide rationale education.


Terrorism is a worldwide challenge that affects the growth and economy of affected nations, but along with that, it also affects its population both physically and mentally. Some common mental effects on the population include depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders. The event's impact can be mild to severe depending on the intensity and duration of the event witnessed. People directly associated with the event, like the defense personnel, have a long-lasting impact, and even the memory of the incident can cause panic attacks or anxiety. The only way towards recovery is through. Every survivor needs to go through all seven stages of grief -shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance; only then can one expect to live a normal life.

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Last reviewed at:
24 Nov 2022  -  4 min read




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