Summary: Anniversary Reactions to Disaster and Trauma
As all of us move toward the 10 year anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, we at
Counseling and Psychological Services would like to provide the following information and some
suggested coping strategies to assist you as you move through this significant time.
Anniversary reactions are a re-experiencing of a traumatic event that occurs because of a time cue.
A time cue can be anything that was associated with the time the trauma occurred, from the
season of the year, to a specific day. It may be a particular smell in the air, or events that occur
regularly at that same time. During these times, feelings about the traumatic event can come up
and be almost as strong as they were right after the event. The media focus on this significant
anniversary of September 11, 2001 has already begun. As a result of this increased media focus,
you may experience many visual and other cues that vividly remind you of what occurred and what
you felt, increasing the likelihood of an anniversary reaction.
Anniversary reactions may include feeling jittery, sad, angry, impatient, panicky, and having
negative dreams or images intrude on you. You may feel generally fatigued and be having difficulty
concentrating, sleeping, and eating normally. It is important not to judge yourself or others if you
or they are experiencing these normal reactions. The tips for coping with these reactions are the
same as for when you have just experienced a trauma:
Make choices about your exposure to the media. There may be a continual re-showing of
the footage of what occurred on September 11th
. You can make decisions about how much or